The Mexican Federal Electoral Court ruled today that it will not allow a full recount of the ballots from the recent presidential election. As the Washington Post reports:
Mexico’s top electoral court on Saturday rejected a ballot-by-ballot recount in the disputed presidential election, angering supporters of leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador who have kept the nation in turmoil for weeks. In Mexico’s central plaza, thousands of protesters watched the court session on a huge screen, chanting “Vote by vote!” and drowning out the judges’ statements. Representatives of Lopez Obrador walked out of the session in protest.
In their first public session on the dispute, the seven judges of the Federal Electoral Court left open the possibility that they could order a partial recount. The tribunal has until Sept. 6 to declare a president-elect or annul the elections. Official tallies gave ruling party candidate Felipe Calderon, a former energy secretary, an advantage of less than 0.6 percent, or about 240,000 votes, out of more than 41 million cast.
Chief justice Leonel Castillo argued Saturday that Mexico’s political parties had a chance to raise concerns and dispute results when the results were first counted July 2 and then again during an official count held the week after the vote. During an official count, Mexican law allows authorities to open ballot boxes only if there is evidence of irregularities or fraud. Castillo cautioned against straying from the law, saying recounts should be “exclusively and only” when there are obvious problems. He recommended that a partial recount begin Wednesday and last no more than five days. He also said electoral judges should oversee the process to avoid any doubts.
Interestingly, this ruling mirrors the rules in many states here in the United States for recounts. Although claims are often made that the beauty of paper ballots is that they can always be recounted, the fact is that it is the law in that state governing recounts that determines if, in fact, the ballots can in fact be recounted. electionline.org did a report last year on recounts that illustrated this point, and it is clear that Mexico too has restrictive rules governing the recounting of paper ballots.