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Lopez Obrador Wants Votes Tossed

From Times Wire Services

Mexico’s leftist presidential candidate wants votes from nearly 5,000 polling places thrown out, a top aide said Saturday, amid signs that a partial recount won’t change enough results to swing the election his way.

Annulling the results “from these polling places would change the balance of the election, and would mean that Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador would be the winner,” said Claudia Sheinbaum, the candidate’s top campaign aide.

She said the request would be filed with the Federal Electoral Tribunal, which is overseeing the partial recount and must resolve all challenges to the July 2 election by month’s end.

The protest camps set up by supporters of Lopez Obrador in much of downtown Mexico City continued in full swing Saturday.

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Protesters have briefly taken over highway toll booths, allowing motorists to pass through without paying, a tactic they repeated Saturday on highways in the central state of Puebla, the southern state of Guerrero and the northern state of Nuevo Leon.

Activists swung open toll barriers for a couple of hours on several main highways serving Mexico’s three largest cities: Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey. Also hit were highways to the Pacific coast resort of Acapulco and Nuevo Laredo on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Parties involved in the recount say elections officials have found extra ballots in some ballot boxes, and in other cases have failed to account for all blank ballots distributed to polling places. Sheinbaum said this suggests “a concerted operation” to fix the election for conservative Felipe Calderon, who led by less than 1 percentage point in the official but still uncertified count.

“These criminals thought it was going to be easy -- ‘We took his victory away and he’s going to cross his arms and do nothing,’ ” Lopez Obrador said Saturday in Chiapas, where he was campaigning for a fellow party member. “Well, no, I’m not going to just wait with my arms crossed.”

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Most of The polling places to be challenged by Lopez Obrador’s Democratic Revolution Party were ones where Calderon received more votes.

The recount of 9% of ballot boxes with evident problems is scheduled to end today.

Lopez Obrador has said he doesn’t want the entire election thrown out, but Sheinbaum said the tribunal might choose to do that, or to order a complete recount of all 41 million votes cast.

Some experts have suggested the so-called missing ballots might be due to people who kept voting sheets rather than using them to vote, and said “extra” ballots might have been transferred from nearby polling places. Sheinbaum said neither explanation could account for such widespread problems.

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The tribunal hasn’t released official results from the partial recount, but local media reported that variations of only a few thousand votes have been found, far short of what Lopez Obrador would need to overcome a 244,000-vote deficit.


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