Recount of 12,000 Mexican ballots begins

August 10, 2006|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

MEXICO CITY -- Elections officials began recounting yesterday nearly 12,000 disputed ballots from the last month's presidential election, while supporters of second-place finisher Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador expanded their civil disobedience to a blockade of three bank buildings.

The recount was ordered last week by a seven-judge tribunal that has the final say over election matters. A new president must be declared within a month or the results of the July 2 election are void.

Lopez Obrador and his lawyers filed appeals to the Federal Electoral Tribunal claiming errors and fraud steered the election to Felipe Calderon, who won by less than a percentage point. Lopez Obrador has waged a campaign of civil disobedience to support his demand for a national recount.

The tribunal appeared to close the door on a full recount Saturday; justices said the law allows the recounting of ballots only at polling stations that appeared to have made arithmetic errors or show other irregularities.

Lopez Obrador so far has offered no proof of fraud.

The partial recount, which must be completed by Sunday, will require opening ballot boxes from about 9 percent of the 130,000 voting sites. All were won by Calderon, whose lead is 244,000 votes out of 41 million cast.

The recount is being conducted by officials of the Federal Electoral Institute, a judge and representatives of Calderon's National Action Party and Lopez Obrador's Democratic Revolution Party.

Several thousand Lopez Obrador supporters have blockaded the capital's main boulevard and camped in the central square for the past 10 days to demand a national recount. Early yesterday, they surrounded the entrance to corporate offices of Bancomer, Banamex and HSBC for several hours before dispersing.

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