Special Election Begins in Mexico; Opposition Cries Foul
URUAPAN, Mexico (AP) _ For the second time in six months, city residents voted for a mayor Sunday, but the opposition claimed the balloting had been rigged, as was an earlier, annulled tally.
Opposition leaders said the governing Institutional Revolutionary Party was driving voters to the polls with fake documents and had taken thousands of opposition supporters off voter registration lists.
Allegations of electoral fraud have frequently been made against the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which has controlled the government since the party’s formation in 1929. Party leaders have pledged to end fraud and corruption within the party.
The special election in Uruapan, a city of 450,000 that is the second largest in the western state of Michoacan, was being held because the results of the Dec. 3 vote were annulled because of charges of fraud.
Rep. Jose Gonzalez Morfin of the conservative National Action Party said Sunday that his party’s supporters had seen a pickup truck without license plates and government trucks carrying people with fake documents to vote. Reporters observed at least one such truck that appeared to be carrying on such an operation at one precinct.
At the same time, people carrying voting credentials at the same precinct were turned away when electoral officials said their names did not appear on the voting list.
No electoral officials were immediately available to comment on the charges of fraud.
Members of the center-left Democratic Revolutionary Party and National Action Party had said before the voting that many of their supporters had been eliminated from the rolls.
Uruapan has been governed by a provisional administration since the state legislature canceled December’s vote count.
Juan Antonio Chavez Mendoza, a Democratic Revolutionary member, said Saturday the governing party distributed 5,000 voting credentials to its own members rather than the rightful owners.
He said some were given to people from other parts of the state who would be brought in to vote.
The governing party has denied the allegations.
Jose Rosario Torres Ramos, the local Democratic Revolutionary chairman, said the contest is so close that a few hundred votes could make a difference in the outcome.
Uruapan, 200 miles west of Mexico City, is one of more than 20 cities where the Democratic Revolutionary Party challenged victories claimed by the governing party in December. The party’s activists seized city halls in 21 communities around the state after those elections.
Army troops ousted the protesters with tear gas and fire hoses four months later. No injuries were reported.
Michoacan is the birthplace of former presidential candidate Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, who forged the Democratic Revolutionary Party from an alliance of opposition parties. Cardenas claims that fraud caused his defeat by Carlos Salinas de Gortari in the 1988 presidential race.