Thousands of people rushed to stores Tuesday to redeem pre-paid gift cards they said were given to them previously by the party that won Mexico’s presidency, inflaming accusations that the weekend election was marred by widespread vote-buying. Meanwhile, the projected runner-up in the election, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, said he has asked Mexico’s Federal Election Institute for a recount of the ballots. The Election Institute says it expects the final count results Sunday, and that the law will already likely mandate recounts of about a third of the total ballots cast. At least a few gift cardholders were angry, complaining that they didn’t get as much as promised or that their cards weren’t working. Neighbors at one store in a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of Mexico City said the unusually large crowds prevented them from doing their daily shopping. Some people shopping at the store said that they were told the cards would be valid only during the two days after Sunday’s election and that they had waited to cash them in until Tuesday because the store was packed Monday.
Under Mexican election law, giving voters gifts is not a crime unless the gift is conditioned on a certain vote or meant to influence a vote. However, the cost of such gifts must be reported, and cannot exceed campaign spending limits. Violations are usually punished with fines, but generally aren’t considered grounds for annulling an election.
Some of the people lined up to use gift cards said they got them for supporting the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, whose Enrique Pena Nieto won Sunday’s presidential election, according to the preliminary official vote count. Some wore red T-shirts and baseball caps or carried tote bags with Pena Nieto’s name printed in white. Maria Salazar, a 20-year-old university student, came with her 70-year-old father, Antonio Salazar, to cash three cards.
Full Article: Vote buying alleged, recount demanded in Mexico – CBS News.