Previous Delegations And Reports
On June 29, 1999, a Victoria-based delegation of business,
community, government and human rights workers traveled to the Mexican state of
Nayarit to serve as electoral observers in the Nayarit state elections of July
The Nayarit election was considered significant enough to
warrant the presence of foreign observers for two reasons. First, in more than
70 years no opposition political party had ever defeated the ruling Partido
Revolucionario Institucional (PRI). Second, for the first time in Mexico’s
contemporary political history, four distinct opposition parties joined forces
to form an opposition coalition with the expressed goal of defeating the ruling
Nayarit is one of smallest states (27th in
size) of the 32 states that form the republic of Mexico. Nayarit is located on
the Pacific coast of Mexico, approximately 150 kilometers north of Puerto
Vallarta and 200 kilometers south of Mazatlan.
The economy of Nayarit is primarily agricultural and
resource based. Its economy depends on the production of standard cash crops
such as mangos, coffee, tobacco and sugar cane. Fishing, livestock, aquaculture
and mineral extraction also contribute significantly to Nayarit’s economy.
The geography of Nayarit is best described as subtropical. The population of the state is just under one million inhabitants. Tepic, the capital city, has a population of approximately 250,000. The indigenous population is comprised primarily of the Huichol and the Cora peoples. Combined these two groups number about 35,000.
On July 4, 1999, residents of Nayarit went to the polls to
elect the state’s governor, 20 municipal mayors and 30 members of the state
congress. Prior to these elections, the PRI had governed Nayarit without
interruption for more than 70 years. This was not unusual in Mexican politics
given that following the conclusion of the Mexican revolution in the early
1920’s, the PRI has maintained exclusive ownership of the political process at
both the national and state government levels.
This long-standing hegemony of the PRI over Mexican
political life has, in many elections, been attained through the use of
non-democratic tactics such as electoral fraud, improper use of state resources,
intimidation and violence.
At the national level, the federal election of 1994
resulted in the first-ever PRI loss of its plurality in the Congress. These
gradual, but significant, changes have been prompted in part by pressure from
the United States and Canada (Mexico's North American Free Trade Agreement
partners) and a number of countries in western Europe, all eager to see Mexico
take its place among the democratic nations of the so-called “First World.”
In addition, domestic civil unrest galvanized by the Zapatista uprising of 1994
has also prodded Mexico’s progression towards a more democratic society.
Yet, in spite of these recent reforms, efforts to
establish democratic institutions and fraud-free electoral processes continue to
be met with resistance from influential and reactionary divisions within the
PRI. Violence, intimidation and electoral fraud are still lingering warts on
Mexico’s new face of democracy.
Normally, the 1999 elections of Nayarit would not have
attracted much attention outside of the state. However, as mentioned earlier,
this election was significant for two reasons. First, for almost 70 years the
state of Nayarit had been governed solely by the PRI. Second, in February 1998,
the state’s four main opposition parties joined together to form an opposition
coalition. The coalition parties included:
Acción Nacional (PAN)
Revolucionario Democrático (PRD)
del Trabajador (PT)
Revolución Socialista (PRS)
This coalition, which called itself the Alliance for
Change (Alianza para el Cambio) put aside significant
ideological differences in order to join in a united challenge to the PRI. This
political experiment captured the attention of a nation that in August 2000 will
head to the polls to elect a new president and congress. To many, the newly
formed Alliance for Change coalition presented a model of change to Mexicans who
yearn to see an opposition candidate sit in the presidential chair, a
possibility virtually unthinkable in post-revolutionary Mexico.
In the 12 weeks following the acceptance of Alianza Cívica’s
invitation, a proposal to form a delegation of
observers from Victoria was put together by the project coordinators. A
number of social justice and community organizations in Victoria were approached
to solicit support for the project. The Victoria field office of Oxfam agreed to
be the delegation’s principal supporter.
A public presentation was subsequently held, inviting interested
Victorians to become a part of the delegation. Following the presentation, an
informal application process was used to select the members of the delegation.
The delegation members included:
Golden- a long time member of the
Victoria Central American Support Committee. Peter is a lawyer and certified
mediator with a private practice in Victoria. Peter has traveled to Central
America on a number of occasions and focused his work on social justice issues
Lopez-a social worker who
presently works as an advocate with the Vancouver Island Human Rights Coalition
and volunteers with the Capital Region Race Relations Association. Elvira is a
Mexican native who immigrated to Canada.
Baileys- an investigation officer
with the British Columbia Human Rights Commission. Steve is actively involved
with a number of social justice organizations in Victoria, and is a founding
member of the Building Bridges with Chiapas Human Rights Project.
Workshops and Training
Prior to the delegation’s departure, two training workshops were
organized. The purpose of the workshops was to familiarize the delegates with
the roles and responsibilities of an impartial electoral observer and to prepare
for the unique aspects of observing an election in Mexico.
The delegates first attended a briefing session with representatives
from Elections BC, a non-partisan provincial agency responsible for organizing
and ensuring that provincial elections are democratic and fraud free. Elections
BC provided a foundation for understanding the essential elements required in a
democratic election (i.e. free, fair and transparent) and how to recognize or
detect electoral fraud.
The delegation learned that the following universal elements are
required for an election to be regarded as credible and democratic:
voting locations and facilities for special voting
understood voting process
Guidelines and checklists, developed in accordance with standards
established by the United Nations, were provided by Elections BC to assist the
delegation in its observer role while in Nayarit.
A subsequent half-day workshop was conducted for the delegation by the
project coordinators with the assistance of Dr. John Newcomb, a seasoned
electoral observer from the University of Victoria's geography department. The
topics covered during the workshop included: Mexico's electoral process, the
role of foreign observers, the political parties, as well as a general overview
of Nayarit's history, culture and social conditions.
Radio interviews were also conducted on:
AM900 - Robin Adair Show
AM1070 - Allan Perry Show
FM92 - Island Morning Show
FM101.9 - Postales Musicales de Latino America
Finally, a series of public presentations were given throughout the greater Victoria area. The purpose of the presentations was to inform and educate the public about the upcoming elections in Nayarit and the reasons why Canadians were invited to observe them.
In order to enter Mexico
as legal and accredited electoral observers, all members of the delegation were
required to obtain special FM3 visas from the Mexican federal government.
The documentation required to be able to enter Mexico as
“International Electoral Visitors” was initially sent to our Alianza Cívica
hosts in Tepic, Nayarit, via courier in May of 1999. The documents were to be
processed by the Alianza Cívica and returned to the delegation prior to our
departure for Mexico. Copies of the documentation were also forwarded to the
Mexican immigration authorities and the Mexican consulate general.
Unfortunately, the package containing the documents was misrouted by
the courier company to Sao Paulo, Brazil. This resulted in a significant delay
in the documentation process and hampered the delegation’s ability to obtain
the coveted FM3 visas.
The delegate members were responsible for raising the funds required
for air travel, accommodation and food. A number of individuals, community
organizations, labour groups and church organizations generously donated funds
and/or provided letters of support to the project.
These individuals and organizations included:
American Association of the University of Victoria
Lunn, Member of Parliament for Saanich and the Gulf Islands
Service Alliance of Canada- National Health & Welfare Union Local 20017
Auto Workers Union
Society for Humanistic Judaism
American Support Committee of Victoria
Club of Cordova Bay
Bridges with Chiapas Human Rights Observer Project
Club of Victoria Golden K
Diocese of Victoria-Raymond Roussin Bishop of Victoria
The delegation would like to thank all individuals and organizations
for their generous moral and financial support.
The delegation arrived five days prior to the election in order to
learn more about the political climate in Nayarit and the related electoral
issues, voting processes, the history of previous elections in Nayarit,
mechanisms and tactics of fraud used in previous elections, etc. The delegation
pre-arranged a series of meetings with representatives from Nayarit’s
political, non-political, human rights, intellectual, environmental, indigenous
and religious communities. The organizations we met with represented a
cross-section of economic, social and political backgrounds and viewpoints from
Revolucionario Democrático - PRD (opposition political party)
Para El Cambio (opposition party coalition)
Cívica (civil and human rights organization)
Community of Salvador Allende (indigenous community)
Político Empresarial - IPE (PRI business organization)
de Artistas e Intelectuales de Nayarit (intellectual community)
Revolucionario Institutional - PRI (the ruling party in Nayarit)
Chamber of Commerce (non-partisan business organization)
Electoral Council of Nayarit
Bishop of Nayarit
The delegation found these meetings enlightening and useful.
They provided insight into: the history and background of the two major
political parties, their respective campaigns and candidates; Nayarit's
electoral history leading up to the 1999 election; the tactics used in previous
elections to commit electoral fraud; environmental, social and economic issues
unique to Nayarit; and the relevance of the election to Nayarit civil society.
The majority of the organizations and individuals we met with were not
affiliated or aligned with the ruling PRI party. These representatives, while
clearly subjective in their viewpoints and opinions regarding the PRI party,
nevertheless provided consistent, detailed and impressive anecdotal information
regarding fraud tactics utilized in previous elections by the PRI. During the
meetings the delegation was cautioned on more than one occasion to be mindful of
these tactics during our observation of the election.
The types of allegations of fraud communicated to the delegation
generally conform to one of two general categories:
· election day frau
Common Examples of
of state resources to support
political activities (i.e. use of government employees and vehicles to transport
credentials being taken away from
campesinos ostensibly by government authorities for identification or
verification purposes. Without proper voting credentials a person is unable to
vote. This type of tactic would be utilized in communities where support for the
opposition is identified
of public works projects in a
community just prior to the election and leaving it uncompleted until after the
election. The authorities inform residents that if the PRI is not reelected then
the project will remain unfinished
of fees to business and union dues to government workers.
The funds raised are then used to support political activities (i.e.,
requirement that all taxi owners who receive required government business
licenses must display the PRI party emblem on their windshield)
of government assistance programs
that provide food, building materials and cheap loans to rural residents as a
tool to ensure recipients vote for the PRI. Authorities will typically threaten
that if vote is not in favour of the PRI, the assistance program will be denied.
Election Day Fraud
box stuffing (also called making a
“taco” as a valid ballot is stuffed with a number of fraudulent ballots and
dropped into the ballot box)
voting (occurs when an individual votes at more than one polling station
under a series of fictitious names or the name of a dead person)
registry shaving (deliberately
leaving the name of a voter off the list if that voter is known to be a
supporter of the opposition party)
of intimidation to influence
voters (can be achieved by strategic presence of police, military or a person of
authority in vicinity of polling booth. This is especially intimidating to
members in small rural communities where authority figures wield greater
“Carousels”- transporting a group of pre-organized workers by the employees’
boss (usually campesinos who are illiterate and/or fearful of losing their job
and typically will vote as instructed in order to keep their job)
robbing or burning the ballot box
exchange (occurs when an individual is given a pre-marked ballot and told to
deposit that marked ballot into the box. In return, the voter must bring out the
unused ballot which will then be pre-marked and used by the next voter)
The fraud tactics listed above are not by any means exhaustive, but
they do provide a general idea of the types of fraud that have been alleged to
have occurred prior to and during an election.
During our meetings with the various political and non-political
Nayarit organizations, the delegation was informed that a number of illegal
electoral practices and acts of intimidation had been carried out by the PRI in
the months leading up to the 1999 election. It was also pointed out to us that
this electoral campaign was likely the most expensive in the history of Nayarit,
as evidenced by the myriad of signs, posters, flyers and promotional materials
throughout the city, the numerous campaign rallies and extensive media
propaganda. Indeed, the delegation observed that the streets and entire walls of
towns and cities were often blanketed for blocks at a time with political
Due to the relatively short period of time the delegation spent in
Nayarit, it should be emphasized that we were not able to substantiate the
allegations as they pertained to the period of time leading up to the election
(activities outlined in category #1 above). Our observations were, for the most
part, restricted to those activities that occurred on election day (activities
outlined in category #2).
Political Campaign Rallies
On June 30th, the delegation took the opportunity to attend
the closing campaign rallies organized by the two main political parties. The
PRI rally was held in the central plaza of downtown Tepic, and featured 4 stages
with musical bands and speakers exhorting people to vote for the PRI and its
candidate for governor, Dr. Lucas Vallarta.
The Alianza para el Cambio rally was held on a large piece of unpaved property adjacent to a bullfight ring owned by Antonio Echeverria, the Alianza para el Cambio gubernatorial candidate. The opposition rally featured one large stage with a series of musical bands performing for the audience. Private security guards were present at the rally. Attendance at each rally was about the same and estimated at approximately 12,000-15,000.
In general, the delegation observed that the political climate in the
days leading up to the elections was positive and buoyant. Although there were
some reports of violence, the parties and their candidates were consistent in
calling for violence free elections. The media campaigns and radio, television
and press coverage of the parties were dominated by the PRI and Alliance for
Change. Little, if any, coverage appeared to be given to the other four smaller
parties who did not join the coalition.
A number of opinion polls that appeared in the days prior to the
election predicted a narrow victory for the opposition Alianza para el Cambio.
This information in the media seemed to contribute to an air of excited
anticipation and change.
In accordance with the electoral laws of Nayarit, the media and
publicity campaign was suspended four days prior to election day. One day before
the elections, a member of our delegation saw a TV ad for the PRI government
aired from the nearby city of Guadalajara that began with the phrase “a
message from Guadalajara”- a unique approach to skirt around the media ban by
broadcasting from outside the state.
At this time it would be helpful to provide background information on
the Nayarit electoral process so that the reader can better understand what the
delegation was tasked with observing.
A number of weeks prior to the election, all eligible voters (over the
age of 18 and established residents) were required to pre-register with the
Nayarit State Electoral Council. The State Electoral Council is an organization
equivalent to Elections BC. The Electoral Council is responsible for organizing
the elections and ensuring they are free, fair and transparent.
Upon registering with the Electoral Council, the voter’s photograph
and thumbprint are taken and placed on a sophisticated voter identification
card. This ID card is similar in appearance to a BC driver’s license. The
voter credential card contains the following:
of the voter
the voter ID card, a person is unable to vote. The voter’s personal
information and picture are also included in a telephone book-like registration
list that is distributed to all polling officials and party scrutineers for use
on voting day.
polling station officials (funcionarios)are pre-selected by lottery according to
a random birthdate (ex., those born on August 2nd are requested to
serve as poll officials). The lottery method is utilized in order to ensure
impartiality. We were told that in previous elections, “biased” polling
officials appointed by the government often administered the electoral process
to the government’s advantage.
randomly selected individuals then undergo a series of workshops to familiarize
themselves with the electoral process and the rights and responsibilities of a
poll official on election day.
officials preside at each casilla: the president, the secretary and two
scrutineers. Officials are not to be replaced without prior notice and only
under the authority of the Electoral Council. The name of each official is
listed on a printed registry that is widely distributed and can be crossed
checked for inconsistencies or irregularities by voters and observers alike.
On voting day the
electoral process functions in the following manner:
arrive at the casilla location.
They transport the ballots, portable polling stand and other required materials
to the casilla
count and sign all ballots beforehand
casilla voting booth is setup and
each funcionario assumes his/her role and must display proper identification
are admitted into the polling area and must presents her/his voter credential to
cross-reference the voter’s credential with the voter registry
and ensure the voter is properly registered
signs registry with signature or thumbprint
is given to voter who then votes in booth
deposits marked ballot in ballot box
has thumb marked with indelible ink
credential is stamped and returned to voter
Any deviations to the above process are to be noted by the delegation
as electoral observers and documented.
It must be emphasized that the role of the delegation was restricted to that of observation and documentation only. Any witnessed anomalies or irregularities were to be reported in written form to the Civic Alliance and the State Electoral Council. Mexican law expressly prohibits any foreigner from intervening, interfering or participating in the electoral or political process under penalty of arrest, expulsion from the country or imprisonment. The delegation was reminded of this on a daily basis.
In addition to our small delegation of Canadian observers, there was a
total of 400 national observers coordinated by the Alianza Cívica and COPARMEX,
a federal non-partisan business organization. These observers were distributed
throughout the 20 municipalities of Nayarit. The opposition coalition, Alliance
for Change, and the PRI prearranged the presence of party representatives in the
986 casillas to safeguard against fraud.
What follows are summarized reports from each delegation team.
Total Casillas Covered:
Opening of the Casilla and Route
There was considerable confusion with regards to the
initial counting and signing of the ballots.
This was primarily due to the fact that party representatives could not
agree upon the proper procedure. The
President then proceeded to consult the electoral law for clarification and
instruction (8:25 am).
The President, although he often appeared flustered, was
making a sincere attempt to maintain control of the casilla.
He warned an Alianza para el Cambio party representative not to leave the
voting area without prior permission. Elvira,
our Mexican counterpart, overheard one of the PRI party representatives
complaining to the President about the “pushy attitude” of our Mexican host.
The first voter dropped his ballot at 8:36 am. During our
time at this casilla we noted a number of irregularities including:
Some voters signed the padron (voter’s list) before
voting while others signed it afterwards
One voter took back the wrong credential and another
forgot to claim his while leaving
Two empty ballot boxes were placed ten feet from the
voting area. This made it unclear
to voters which
ballot box was to be used
Older voters talking to each other in the voting booth and
younger family members assisting them with the voting process.
We observed the arrival of COPARMEX observers who, after
taking a minute to
look around, informed us that the indelible ink used at the casilla was not
working and left.
A young lady with the credential “GAUSSC” was inside
the voting area taking notes and then moved outside to the street in order
to conduct what appeared to be exit surveys.
Our Mexican host representative from Alianza Cívica
believed that she was buying votes and instructed two ladies with yellow
“NGO” ball caps (Alianza para el Cambio supporters) to follow and
observe/record everything she said and did.
We believe that the conduct of our Mexican host fostered a tense
situation and served to increase voter apprehension.
The President of the casilla told Elvira and Rochelle that
they must either stay for only 15 minutes or else remain for the entire day.
He did so while informing them that it was not acceptable for them to
enter and exit the voting area as they pleased.
At a second casilla we visited in a local school we were
asked to show our credentials immediately upon arriving.
It was obvious that the president had control of the casilla.
Funcionarios and party representatives seemed to understand their role
quite clearly and everything appeared to be proceeding smoothly.
Paul was approached by a party representative while taking
some photographs and told that he should be well outside of the voting area.
Other party representatives then informed their counterparts that
electoral observers had the legal authority to be anywhere around the casilla.
An elderly voter arrived with her credential but her name
and photo were not on the voter registry. The President explained why she would
not be allowed to vote.
At our third casilla, #129, we were told that COPARMEX
observers had been told to leave this voting station. And so, while this casilla was not on our official casilla
list, we decided that it would be worthwhile to visit it. It should be noted
that we met other COPARMEX observers throughout the day who routinely had been
denied access to voting areas and who were told to leave the casilla area.
Casilla #129 was the first we visited without our Mexican
host (who we left behind after reaching a group consensus that she had
compromised our role as apolitical foreign visitors). The casilla itself was
calm and orderly. Elvira introduced
us to the President who assured us that there would be no problems with
observing and taking pictures. There
were two Alianza and two PRI representatives present at the casilla. One
funcionario was wearing a PRI pin and was handing ballots to the President who
was in turn giving them to voters. There were two GAUSSC young women conducting
exit surveys 30 feet from the voting area.
The fourth polling station we visited was situated in a
small gazebo in the main plaza. All
the funcionarios were present along with four party representatives.
A voter with an expired credential was prohibited from voting. A man who
later identified himself as a technical advisor for the CEE (Compostela) was
travelling from casilla to casilla in an official truck with police lights.
There were reports of “Mapaches”
(perpetrators of fraud) hanging around the Central Square and allegations
of voters being tapped on the shoulder and told to vote for the PRI in return
At the fifth casilla, #160 Las Varas, we found the
environment was extremely tense. When
we arrived there was a car filled with four men parked directly across from the
casilla (30 feet). We learned that
they were supporters/members of the Alianza para el Cambio.
Soon afterwards, a truck full of armed state police drove by.
Minutes later a van of PRI supporters drove past slowly (we were told
that it was being driven by the current mayor of Compostela and that it was
passing by every hour). There
was a COPARMEX observer who expressed concern about this particular casilla and
decided to stay throughout the day.
All funcionarios were present along with four party representatives. One ballot was voided, with everyone in agreement. Another voter was not allowed to vote because of a problem with her voter credential.
At another casilla we were rudely told by the President to
stay out of the way. It was obvious
that our presence was not welcome. There were two party representatives from the
PRI and the Alianza present. A representative from the Federal Electoral
Institute was also present videotaping the proceedings. There were two different
bottles of indelible ink noted on the table.
Several men hanging around the voting area added to a tense situation.
While we were there one of the funcionarios stood up, took a ballot and voted.
There was no ink applied to his thumb after voting (although there was
some ink on his hand). One of the
funcionarios spent some time in the voting booth with a voter. In another
instance, a female voter came out of the voting booth in order to speak with a
funcionario and then returned to cast her ballot. Outside of the same casilla,
an Alianza para el Cambio (yellow NGO ball cap) supporter asks us how to report
an anomaly that she had witnessed. She claimed that ballots were carried into
the voting area just after a car accident that took place directly in front of
Late in the afternoon we arrived at casilla #170 in the
town of Chacala. We noted that four functionaries and five party representatives
(3 PRI, 2 Alianza) were present. As we arrived, a PRI representative ran past us and dropped
the voter registry and a black pen in front of the President.
He then took his seat at the table. There were no voters while we were
there. In fact, the Secretary told us that they were waiting for the last three
voters to arrive and even spoke of closing the casilla early.
At the second to last casilla we visited, #189 in Penita
de Guayabitos, we noted that
different inkbottles were being used at the voting table. Two ballot boxes were
also being used at the same time. A man assisted a woman vote to the extent that
he was actually inside the booth with her. It is interesting to note that while the ink was not supposed
to take effect for some time after being applied, the woman’s thumb was
already stained brown before she exited from the casilla. This could be due to
the fact that different bottles of ink were being used in the casillas (perhaps
some were left over from the last election).
We arrived at casilla #864 at Adolfo Lopez Mateo at 5:45
pm. It was very quiet when we entered. A
short while later we decided to drive to the casilla Emiliano Zapata for the
closing of the polls and the counting of ballots.
of the Polls and Counting of the Ballots
We arrived at casilla, #864 Emiliano Zapata, to witness
the closing of the polling booth at 6:05 pm.
Voters were still in line at 6:00 pm and were given the opportunity to
vote. The casilla had three ballot boxes being used: one each for governor,
mayor, and deputy. Each one of the vote counters and observers were shown the
spoiled ballots – all of which were clearly spoiled except for several which
were remedied on the vote recount. A party representative from the PARM party
indicated to us that he felt that the voting process had been fair and free from
intimidation and violence.
Missing Ballots 12
Team 1 observed that overall there was an air of confidence among
polling officials. Some officials questioned why foreigners were present at the
casilla and seemed to be unaware of the electoral laws that permitted our
presence. The majority of the voting irregularities appeared to be related to a
lack of organization, but overall the officials carried out their duties in a
reasonable fashion. The atmosphere in a number of casillas was best described as
being “tense” but positive.
Unfortunately, the Mexican observer who accompanied us was
confrontational in her approach and demeanor. This placed the observer team in a
vulnerable position and created unnecessary tension at the polling booth. Our
team decided to leave the Mexican observer in the town of Compostela and
continued our observation without her.
On a number of occasions the COPARMEX observers we encountered told us
that they had been asked to leave the casilla by officials. This seemed to be an
Total Casillas Visited:
At 7:45 the election ballot materials arrived and set-up of the
casilla was completed. At 7:59 the ex-governor of Nayarit arrived in the middle
of a big fanfare. He talked to team members about native issues in Canada,
Captain Vancouver’s and Captain Quadra’s roles in the exploration of Nayarit
and Vancouver Island and the importance of the PRI party in Nayarit political
life. Party representatives and observers were present from PRI, MEDP and
COPARMEX. There were no observers from the Alianza Cívica present. All the
party representatives were permitted to sign the ballots before the voting
began. This was done to ensure that only legal ballots would be used in the
At 8:30 the casilla president requested the presence of one
funcionario and one opposition party representative who had not yet arrived. The
first person voted at 8:50 am. It was noted that there were 55-65 people in line
waiting to vote when the casilla finally opened. Once the voting began the process proceeded in a smooth and
Team 2 then proceeded to cover its pre-assigned route of casillas. In
general, voting was calm and orderly, but there were a variety of anomalies
observed. A number of people interviewed told us they had been issued their
voter identification cards, yet their names were not found in the voters’
registry. In one casilla the funcionarios did not return the voter
identification cards to the voters after they had voted. A number of ID cards
were also not properly punched after the voter had voted.
In another casilla, a number of opposition party volunteers were
easily identified by the wearing of special yellow hats indicating they were
special observers allied with the Alianza coalition. These individuals were
located well within 50 meters of the casilla.
Party representatives were also seen acting as funcionarios or helping
voters with the voting process. A number of people displayed Alliance for Change
party buttons in the casilla area.
When we arrived at one casilla a Mexican pollster who was present was
not comfortable with the presence of foreign observers. It appeared that members
of the PRI were also actively conducting an exit poll.
Other general observations included:
Political posters and
propaganda within 50 meters of casillas
While present at one casilla
two trucks pulled up and dismantled large posters in the immediate area of the
At times it was difficult to
distinguish individuals present at casillas who appeared to be scrutineers. This
was due to lack of properly displayed identification
Ballot boxes were noted to have
been sealed with improper sealing tape
Polling stations were often
located in areas which were difficult to access by vehicle, provided
insufficient parking, had poor lighting, or were placed within limited spaces
that created problems with the lay-out of the registration table and compromised
privacy and confidentiality when voting
At a number of casillas party
representatives were observed assisting in the voting process as if they were
The ballot box slot was noted
to be very narrow. This caused problems for voters who did not properly fold
their ballot, making it difficult to insert the ballot into the box
Some ballots boxes were placed
at a height which made it difficult to access for some of the older and shorter
A number of voters (mostly
elderly) were observed receiving assistance from party representatives. One
example noted was when the ballot did not fit into the box -the persons
assisting the voter typically opened the ballot thereby revealing the voter’s
choice before re-folding it and placing it into the ballot box
One polling station decided to
close at 4:15pm contrary to electoral law. The rationale given was that 95% of
the registered voters had voted. We were told that those who had not voted, a
total of 4 or 5, “lived too far away to vote.”
One voter was witnessed leaving
the voting booth without having their thumb inked
· A group of elderly men gathered and were observed spending an inordinate amount of time at the gateway entrance to one casilla. These individuals appeared to be PRI organizers and created an air of intimidatio
Closing of Casilla and Counting of
San Cayetano Casilla
The total number of unused ballots was 469. A total of 930 ballots
were cast. This represented a voter turnout of approximately 66% at this casilla.
The vote count was conducted by poll officials and party representatives. While
this was contrary to the electoral law, which stipulated that only poll
officials should carry out the count, we did not observe any incidents of fraud.
This cooperative counting of the votes appeared to be done in an effort to count
the ballots as rapidly as possible.
Results: Deputies Mayor Governor
Partido Verde 7
Total Casillas Visited:
Team #3 stayed in Tepic to observe the opening of the casilla and in
order to allow their Mexican driver to vote in casilla #756. The team arrived at
7:50 am. It was noted that the doors to the school where the casilla was located
were still locked.
A man wearing a PRI pin and a number of others around him were waiting
at the gate, but left when we arrived. The funcionarios started to set up the
casilla at 8:23 am and finished at 8:43 am.
The Alianza Cívica observer helped set up the voting booth. By this
time there were about 30 people waiting in line. A number of them started
yelling at the funcionarios to hurry up. The ballots were counted and signed:
974 for governor, 974 for mayor and 965 for deputies. A PRD party representative
pointed out to us that there should have been an equal number of ballots in all
three elected positions. The first voter was allowed to come in to cast his
ballot at 8:44 am. The PRI representative told us that observers were not
supposed to be inside the casilla. We went outside for a while and returned
later. We were subsequently asked not to stand behind the table where the
funcionarios were seated.
In the first casilla we visited we were told of a man named Eden who
was going around asking people for their voting credentials. Another
unidentified male was standing in front of the ballot box all the time and
assisted a number of voters with the placing of their folded ballots into the
We encountered several exit-poll interviewers at a number of the
casillas. Curiously, each of them stopped interviewing people when we arrived
and did not appear to be pleased with our presence. None of the funcionarios we
observed displayed proper credentials or identification as required by the
electoral laws. A number of people were noted to be wearing t-shirts with
political slogans in full view and well within the 50-meter limit of the casilla.
At a number casillas, various political party representatives were
observed within very close proximity to the voting booth. They were asked to
leave the casilla on two occasions by funcionarios. It was noted that at one
casilla a huge opposition party poster/billboard was within 50 meters of the
In a number of casillas the placement of the waiting lines to enter
the casilla was very close to the voting booths and ballot boxes. This seemed to
compromise confidentiality and increase the level of intimidation for voters. We
found three casillas where they had two ballot boxes open at the same time. In
one station they had opened a slot besides the standard metal slot to facilitate
the deposit of the ballots.