Mexico is recounting votes cast at more than half its polling places during Sunday’s presidential election, the electoral body said Wednesday, as reports of vote-buying marred the apparent win of the former ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI. Ballots from more than 54% of polling places will be recounted within 72 hours, the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) said. The figure marks a huge increase over the 9% of ballots that were recounted in the long and contentious aftermath of the disputed 2006 election. The recount began early Wednesday as part of the IFE’s normal procedure of validating results gathered from the institute’s 300 electoral districts. By law, ballots are recounted when a polling place shows irregularities, such as more votes cast than there are registered voters, a complete sweep by a single candidate or party, or a 1-percentage-point or smaller margin between first and second place. Separately, the PRI is facing growing accusations that campaigns gave potential voters supermarket debit cards in exchange for their votes, among other allegations.
“They gave us the cards in the name of the PRI and Rep. Hector Pedroza [a PRI congressional candidate], and they said they were counting on our vote,” a 20-year-old university student told the Associated Press at a Soriana supermarket in eastern Mexico City. The PRI and Soriana chain said in statements that they had no such agreement.
Leftist coalition candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has yet to concede defeat after the initial “fast count” that began Sunday night had him about 6 points behind presumed winner Enrique Peña Nieto of the PRI. The recount is not expected to significantly alter the preliminary results. Such a prospect places pressure on Mexico’s progressive factions to decide whether they will follow Lopez Obrador on another possible wave of protests and mobilizations like those that shut down the center of Mexico City for weeks after the 2006 vote.