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The leader of the Institutional Revolutionary Party in Baja California, René Mendívil (right), explained on Saturday why he thinks a federal electoral tribunal will take away the Senate seat won by the Progressive Movement's Marco Antonio Blásquez and award it to the PRI's Eligio Valencia.
Blásquez defeated Valencia by 194 votes for the state's third Senate seat, out of more than 1.2 million ballots cast. Blásquez was asked to run for the Senate by leftist presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who lost to the PRI's Enrique Peña Nieto by more than 3 million votes, but still is challenging the results.
Valencia (right) would have easily defeated Blásquez had it not been for voter confusion: Tens of thousands of voters who likely intended to vote for Valencia spoiled their ballots by marking them for both the PRI and the Green Party. Ballots marked for both parties were valid in the presidential race in the state's eight races for federal deputy posts. However, the Green Party ran a separate candidate in the Senate race, meaning that any ballot in which both the PRI and the Green Party's slots were marked was invalidated.
Mendívil said that in many cases, voters marked their ballots with an X that fills the PRI slot but only lightly infringes into the Green Party slot directly below. He said those ballots show a clear intent for voters' preferences for the PRI; he said those votes would easily put Valencia, the director of El Mexicano newspaper, past Blásquez.
Sample ballot shows a vote for PRI infringing into the Green Party slot; a ballot marked for both parties was valid in the presidential and federal deputies' races in Baja California, but not in the Senate race.
The regional electoral tribunal in Guadalajara must make its decision on the matter by Aug. 21.
The dispute was a reminder of what happened in the 1988 presidential and congressional races in Mexico. Electoral officials allied with the then-ruling PRI threw out ballots for leftist presidential candidate Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas and for leftist congressional candidates in Michoacan state because the ends of the X's voters marked their ballots with barely infringed into other parties' slots. In the end, many of those votes were restored, and Cárdenas and congressional candidates on his ticket scored more than 60% of the vote (PDF) in the state, although Cárdenas lost to the PRI's Carlos Salinas nationwide.
The mistakes that voters made in the Baja California Senate race this year demonstrate how the PRI depends on Mexico's least-educated citizens for its votes. Voters clearly did not do their homework and realize all the candidates who were running in the Senate race.
Mendívil spoke Saturday at Tijuana's City Hall after a memorial service for PRI state legislator Gregorio Barreto, who died Thursday at age 58.
Update, Aug. 4: Regional electoral tribunal awards seat to Blásquez.
Update, Aug. 2: Frontera reports that regional electoral tribunal in Guadalajara rejects the PRI's argument in various states that ballots marked for both the PRI and the Green Party should be examined to determine to the intent of the voter. "To rule that citizens' ballot marks favor one of the two parties in question because they did not form a coalition, gives to an insuperable complexity, because to be able to tidily define which party or candidate was the intended recipient of the vote, it would be necessary to go to each voter to ask about their true intentions, a scenario that is not viable and indeed threatens the principle of the secret ballot."
Frontera said the PRI is also trying to get more than 194 votes for Blásquez annulled in Mexicali so that Valencia could win. Frontera's political page (PDF).
July 9: El Mexicano does not publish results of recount that gave Blásquez a 194-vote victory for Baja California's third Senate seat.
July 8: Recount gives Blásquez 194-vote victory over Valencia.
July 2: PAN ticket wins two Senate seats; race for third seat too close to call.
June 21: Blásquez profiled by Frontera.
March: Senate race update.
Jan. 24: María Elvia de Hank says she declined No. 2 spot on PRI Senate ticket so that ticket would have better geographic balance.
Terrible typo: Story public relations person wrote about PRI Sen. Fernando Castro Trenti's November address about his activities calls PRI leader René Medieval instead of René Mendívil; because media outlets across Baja California often publish such stories word-for-word (and without identifying the source), the mistake is repeated in newspapers and websites across the state.