Journalist: “I’ve never seen a political race end like this, but it has just happened.”
Z: “I’ve seen a lot of elections, Gaius, most honest, a few fakes, and you can always tell the fixed ones, because they don’t make sense. And this doesn’t make sense.”
— Ron Moore script (aired 3/10/06 in UK)

What a wonderful and prescient explanation, of the experiences of July 3rd, 2006. Would that I had viewed Ron’s work, prior to its later distribution in the United States.

James K. Galbraith saved me a great deal of effort and anxiety earlier today, by publishing, in clear words, Doing Maths in Mexico, a far better explication of events than I had come to. (To be fair to myself, I had only begun to assemble datasets from election results, have many more internal documents confusing my perspective, and spent much of last night writing about the significance of Mexico’s teetering democratic experiment to our own).

Galbraith begins:

The election was stolen. It’s not in doubt. Colin Powell admits it. The National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute both admit it. Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana – a Republican – was emphatic: there had been “a concerted and forceful program of election-day fraud and abuse”; he “had heard” of employers telling their workers how to vote; yet he had also seen the fire of the resisting young, “not prepared to be intimidated”.

In Washington, Zbigniew Brzezinski has demanded that the results be set aside and a new vote taken, under the eye – no less – of the United Nations. In The New York Times, Steven Lee Myers decried “the use of government resources on behalf of loyal candidates and the state’s control over the media” – factors, he said, were akin to practices in “Putin’s Russia”.

and Galbraith ends with words almost as strong as my own:

[F]or those of us outside Mexico, we must decide where we stand: with democracy … or quietly on the sidelines?

I, of course, do not stand outside of Mexico, nor on the “sidelines,” but with those who march to defend democracy’s name, and its meaning, in the streets of Mexico. As an American, with the people of Mexico, I also consider Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador “my President,” and the hope and symbol of our common future.
Galbraith continues by outlining the problems of the July 2nd election:


[in progress, assuming I can catch an InmarSat window in the next hour, else in the morning]

[There are…] at least four significant anomalities in the count:

1. Calderón’s percentage lead in the count started at around seven percentage points, and diminished steadily in percentage terms through the first part of the count. … Is this normal?

2. The PREP results went on view only after the first 10,000 boxes had been processed[…] If those first 10,000 boxes resembled what came later, then […] each candidate should have started with zero votes. For Calderón this is the case, but for AMLO it is not [..] the first 10,000 boxes were markedly different from those that followed. How?

3. There are gross anomalies in the number of votes counted per five-minute interval as the count finishes[…] As the last boxes came in, however, it was radically violated,[…] toward the very end, PREP reset the box count [and] records for 223 boxes disappeared. 33 minutes… passed with no updates. [Then…] there were updates with absurd results: more than 6000 votes per box at 13:57… then updates with large negative votes per box at 13:57 and 14:03.

4. [S]tatistical[ly, …] the distribution across boxes of votes earned by each candidate should be smooth. For Madrazo it is. But for Calderón and AMLO it isn’t. […] A graph of the differences in Calderón and AMLO’s votes per box, which ought to follow a normal curve, does not. Over a certain range, Calderón’s margins appear abnormally large.

Galbraith then reaches to conclusions:

1. […]Felipe Calderón started the night with an advantage in total votes, a gift from the authorities.

2. [A]s the count progressed this advantage was maintained by misreporting of the actual results. […]

3. [T]oward the end of the count, further adjustments were made to support the appearance of a victory by Calderón.

Add these elements together, and there is no reason to accept the almost universal view that the election was close. AMLO might have won by a mile.

As with Vanessa’s call to me in early morning of September 11th, the evening of July 1st will never escape my memory. As my friends celebrated the victory that every measure of “sense” indicated– the 5% to 8% advantage that independent pollsters told then they had– I paced in nervousness. I recited the Kaddish prayer, striving for the focus Noah Feldman gave me years before, and was surprised by those who came to joint me.

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