activists blockade highway Activists promote the spoiled ballot strategy. milenio

Highway blockade urges spoiled ballots

But UNAM researcher suggests the strategy is flawed

The purpose of a partial blockade of the Autopista del Sol yesterday was to urge voters to spoil their ballots in the June 7 elections, a strategy that comes up at every election but is not necessarily an effective one.

The director of the Popular Assembly of the People of Guerrero said in an interview that his organization is taking a different tack from those who are urging voters to stay away from the polls.

“We want the polling stations to be set up and that citizens use their ballots to demonstrate their repudiation of the parties and their candidates,” said Nicolás Chávez Adame.

Instead of voting for a candidate voters are urged to mark an X beside all of them or spoil the ballot in any way that will serve to voice their concern over the lack of credibility in the current political system.

Alternatively, he suggested voters could simply write “43” on the ballot, for the missing Ayotzinapa students, or “Free Nestora Salgado,” a jailed civil defense group leader, to send the message that there are social issues that the state has not addressed due to a lack of political will.

However, a researcher at the National Autonomous University suggests that spoiling one’s ballot has the opposite of the intended effect: it strengthens the parties that earn the majority of votes.

Roberto Duque Roquero has even posted a video to YouTube to make his argument, which is essentially that Mexico counts the ballots in such a way that the spoiled ones are no more than garbage.

It’s not the total vote that counts toward the calculation of budget allocations to the parties and the proportion of votes that determine the plurinominal winners elected by proportional representation, but the valid ballots only.

In countries such as Colombia and Brazil, on the other hand, a spoiled ballot can affect the outcome of an election and can even lead to its annulment, said Duque Roquero, who said he has been studying the issue for a few years.

Political analyst José Antonio Crespo says the percentage of null votes has never exceeded 10%. In fact, the average in the last seven elections was 3.49%.

Even in 2009, where there were intensive campaigns in favor of spoiled ballots only 5.4% of voters went along.

Yesterday’s blockade took place near El Mirador on the freeway that connects the Guerrero state capital of Chilpancingo and the resort city of Acapulco.

Source: Milenio (sp), Punto de Vista (sp)

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