President-elect López Obrador and members of his team have defended the vote on the future of the new Mexico City International Airport (NAICM) and pledged that it will continue despite deficiencies reported yesterday.
Late starts at some polling stations and proof that it was possible to cast more than one ballot were among the problems that plagued the first day of the public consultation asking the public to decide the future of the airport project.
The ballot asks whether construction should continue in Texcoco or be abandoned in favor of reconditioning the existing airport and that in Toluca and building two new runways at the Santa Lucía Air Force Base.
After casting a symbolic invalid vote, López Obrador said the result of the consultation will not pose a risk to the economy, as Mexico’s two largest banks and other analysts have contended.
He also said he would meet with government contractors “to calm them” about the possible outcomes of the vote.
As for yesterday’s problems he said “it’s only the corrupt and the cunning” that want the vote canceled. “The corrupt don’t want the consultation so they are conducting a counter-campaign,” López Obrador charged.
“Do you know why I voted? For democracy!” the president-elect declared. He later said that the first day of the consultation had gone “very well.”
However, that assessment was not supported by evidence on the ground.
A digital application used to register voters’ details crashed yesterday, enabling citizens to vote more than once.
Election ink applied to voters’ thumbs didn’t provide a barrier to casting more than one ballot either because it could easily be removed with water, antibacterial gel, saliva or alcohol, the newspaper Milenio said.
But López Obrador’s spokesman, Jesús Ramírez, said the number of voters who had cast two or more ballots wasn’t “significant” and therefore “there is no reason to cancel the process.”
Ramírez added that “we’re shielding [the process] so that [duplicate voting] doesn’t continue occurring . . . It’s a mistake but it doesn’t invalidate the consultation . . . it’s continuing until Sunday.”
Future interior secretary Olga Sánchez Cordero responded to criticism that the vote is pointless because it is not legally binding.
“Haven’t you understood that it’s not a legal matter?” she said.
“. . . It’s a political matter in order to take a political decision, it’s a tool.”
That view, however, is somewhat at odds with López Obrador’s pledge that the view of the people will be respected.
“What the people decide will be supported by the government,” he told reporters after casting his ballot.
Just over 184,000 citizens had their say on the future of the airport yesterday and some polling stations revealed the results of the ballots cast.
In Tecámac, the México state municipality where the Santa Lucía Air Force base is located, 245 voters supported the air force proposal whereas just 146 voted in favor of the existing project continuing.
A further 12 people cast invalid ballots on which they expressed their opinion about the public consultation.
“This vote is stupid. We’re not experts,” one person wrote.
“It’s not a [valid] consultation because it doesn’t comply with the law,” another suggested.