The president of the National Electoral Institute (INE) has called for calm after a violent incident in Puebla following a close gubernatorial race.
“I call on the political actors to rise up to the level of the celebration of democracy we have had. It’s not fair that the [electoral] process be marred by any political actor no matter what their interests are. The legal channels are there, they should exercise them,” Lorenzo Córdova said yesterday
The official’s comments came after a confrontation Tuesday between members of the National Action Party (PAN) and Morena party at a hotel in the state capital.
The candidate for the coalition led by the former party, Martha Ericka Alonso, appears to have won the election for governor with 38% of the vote, four points ahead of Morena candidate Luis Barbosa Huerta.
But Morena party members and supporters accused the PAN of electoral fraud by manipulating ballots in favor of Alonso and entered the hotel where they alleged the crime was taking place.
Several people were injured in the ensuing clash, according to a report in the newspaper El Financiero, while 62 people, including two successful Morena party candidates, were arrested although all have now been released.
In light of the allegations of fraud, the national president of Morena called for a total recount.
“If they believed, because of . . . the overwhelming triumph of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, they would be able to steal other elections, under no circumstance are we going to allow it . . . We want a recount vote by vote, polling station by polling station,” Yeidckol Polevnsky said.
She also told a press conference that Barbosa had been a victim of a dirty and fraudulent campaign in which former Puebla governor Rafael Moreno Valle sought to perpetuate his own power through Alonso, his wife.
Polevnsky charged that Morena supporters were witnesses to a flagrant crime but a spokesman for the PAN rejected the allegation, holding that the documents in the party’s possession were copies of results from each polling station to which they are entitled.
The electoral crimes division (Fepade) of the federal Attorney General’s office (PGR) said it was investigating the case and requested the cooperation of the INE and the Puebla Electoral Institute (IEEP) to determine the origin of the documents.
The IEEP said it had rejected a request from the Morena party-led coalition for the INE to take over responsibility for counting votes and the institute’s president said there would only be a partial recount of votes.
Of 7,548 electoral packets, 1,337 will be reviewed but only 486 contain ballots for the governor’s race, or 5.9% of the total cast.
During the course of election day in Puebla there were reports of voters being threatened at polling stations by groups of armed civilians. In addition, at least 70 packets of ballots were reportedly stolen and ballots were burned in some municipalities.
The citizens’ organization Sumamos issued a statement saying that “the use of firearms to steal from ballot boxes and intimidate voters is doubly reprehensible.”
It also said that vote-buying had occurred in the lead-up to and during Sunday’s elections.