The presidential election has a fifth candidate after Mexico’s top electoral court ordered the National Electoral Institute (INE) to include Jaime Rodríguez Calderón on the ballot.
The governor of Nuevo León, on leave of absence to run for president, had been ruled ineligible for not having enough valid signatures to back his candidacy.
But by a vote of four to three, the Electoral Tribunal of the Federal Judiciary (TEPJF) ruled early this morning that Rodríguez’s due process was violated because he was not granted sufficient opportunity to contest the INE decision to rule him out of the race.
Because the official campaign period started on March 30, the judges determined that there was not enough time to hold a new hearing or to carry out another revision of the signatures of support Rodríguez collected, so the INE must immediately register his candidacy.
Rodríguez, also known as El Bronco, submitted just over two million signatures but only 835,511, or 41% of the total collected, were initially approved.
In handing down its decision, the TEPJF noted that there were two revisions of the signatures Rodríguez submitted whereas INE guidelines only provide for one.
In addition, it said that during the second revision, INE officials made unilateral decisions about whether a signature was valid or not.
Almost 400,000 signatures Rodríguez submitted via the INE mobile application were deemed invalid during the second revision because they were supported by false or invalid identification.
Rodríguez was subsequently able to prove that 14,426 discarded signatures were in fact valid but that still left him 16,656 signatures short.
Despite going to INE headquarters on 12 occasions, Rodríguez was denied a hearing to review a further 418,000 discarded signatures, of which only a small fraction could have enabled him to reach the required threshold if they were shown to be valid.
The TEPJF also established that the candidate’s right to a presumption of innocence had been violated because it accused Rodríguez of fraud without granting him an opportunity to fully review the signatures he submitted.
Judge Indalfer Infante Gonzáles charged that there had been “sloppiness on the part of the INE.”
In response to the decision, Rodríguez tweeted: “God is great, thank you. Faith is magnificent.”
There is a possibility that a sixth candidate could appear on the ballot.
TEPJF judges ordered the INE to give Armando Ríos Piter 10 days to review 906,000 signatures he submitted to electoral authorities but were subsequently deemed invalid. Ríos Piter’s due process was also violated, the court determined.
If he can prove that he submitted enough valid signatures the TEPJF will order that he too must be registered as an independent candidate.