An initiative by the National Electoral Institute (INE) to go paperless in the gathering of signatures by independent candidates has run up against a snag: internet connectivity isn’t good enough in some parts of Mexico.
As a result, the INE has granted a partial exception to one presidential aspirant that will allow her to use paper to collect signatures in support of her candidacy in marginalized municipalities in three southern states.
Indigenous, independent candidate María de Jesús Patricio Hernández made a request for permission to use old-fashioned paper rather than the INE mobile application that has been developed for the purpose because much of her supporter base lives in rural areas where telecommunications coverage is poor.
In order to appear on the ballot for next July’s presidential election, each independent candidate is required to collect 866,593 signatures of support by February 12. The number corresponds to 1% of all voters on the electoral roll.
The INE announced earlier this month that the application would allow candidates to collect signatures digitally, a measure designed to save millions of pesos and lots of paper.
But by granting an exemption to Patricio Hernández, the organization has conceded that it is not the optimal approach for the whole country.
Its ruling applies to 242 municipalities that the National Population Council (Conapo) has identified as the country’s most marginalized. In the approved areas, Patricio Hernández and her registered assistants will have the option to use either paper or the digital application.
The municipalities are primarily located in Chiapas, Oaxaca and Yucatán.
All three states have large indigenous populations that Patricio Hernández aims to mobilize in the lead-up to next year’s election.
The Nahua healer from Jalisco, also known as Marichuy, has the backing of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI), which counts the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) among its members, but gaining the required support to formalize her candidacy will be a challenge nevertheless.
Patricio Hernández had earlier criticized the application, claiming it was designed “for rich people.”
The INE director of the division that made the decision explained that it recognizes the specific characteristics that apply to certain regions of the country.
“. . . the INE approved the possibility, above all when it comes to municipalities with high [rates of] marginalization, in those where there were natural disasters or there is no access to connectivity . . .” Patricio Ballados said.
While an internet connection is not required to collect signatures on the application, Ballados admitted that the remoteness of some municipalities may hinder the capacity to return them electronically to the INE.
Ten other candidates who applied for the same allowance did not have their requests approved, Ballados said.
A different proposal from another independent candidate, prominent journalist and news anchor Pedro Ferriz de Con, was also rejected.
He requested that all citizens be allowed to download the application and use it to collect signatures without being registered as a candidate’s assistant.
But Ballados explained that the sensitivity of the information collected made his idea implausible.
“We have to guarantee to the public that their personal details are protected and that makes it mandatory for candidates to make their assistants jointly responsible for the management . . . [of] personal details,” he said.
Source: El Universal (sp)