Thousands of independent observers, including more than 500 foreigners, will monitor this Sunday’s municipal, state and federal elections in a bid to ensure they are conducted freely and fairly.
Almost 3 million representatives of political parties will also be on hand to watch over the voting and vote-counting process in what will be the biggest elections in Mexico’s history.
As of last Friday, the National Electoral Institute (INE) had certified almost 19,000 citizen poll watchers who declared that they don’t have any affiliation with parties contesting the elections.
Almost 2,200 were registered in Jalisco, more than any other state, while Chiapas ranks second with over 1,700 certified scrutineers. In third place is Mexico City, where more than 1,300 citizens are set to oversee the vote.
Scrutiny of the elections in Baja California Sur, San Luis Potosí and Colima will be far less intense, with just 25, 61 and 62 citizen observers, respectively, having been certified by the INE.
The electoral authority also approved 558 requests from foreigners to observe the elections, at which voters will elect 500 federal deputies, 15 state governors, state lawmakers and thousands of municipal representatives including mayors and councilors.
The international election observers will come from 41 countries, including the United States, Guatemala and Belize, Colombia, Venezuela, Chile, Brazil, Argentina and Jamaica. Some international observers will represent the Permanent Conference of Political Parties of Latin America and the Caribbean, a multilateral non-government organization.
Political parties and independent candidates sought to register some 2.98 million poll-watchers, the newspaper El Economista reported.
Metropolitan Autonomous University political scientist and researcher Jorge Javier Romero said the participation of citizen observers in elections nowadays is the result of a civil society campaign during times when the INE’s predecessor, the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE), was not autonomous.
The Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, was in power for the vast majority of the 20th century and implemented a quasi-dictatorship that included guaranteed election victories.
In the times prior to the IFE’s autonomy, members of civil society repeatedly called for electoral observation beyond that carried out by the political parties, Romero told El Economista. They eventually got their way.
“Civil society has played an important role in making the electoral process in Mexico more transparent,” the academic said.
“[Today] there is no administrative or political process in Mexico that is more transparent than the elections; in our country, the elections are transparent from beginning to end — party representatives participate in every stage, [and] all the information is public,” Romero said before again emphasizing the importance of citizens’ observation.
“In Mexico, there has been no electoral fraud since we’ve had an autonomous electoral body watching over the elections,” he said.
The INE will set up more than 163,000 polling booths for Sunday’s elections, institute president Lorenzo Córdova said Wednesday, adding that more than 1.4 million people will man them. There are almost 93 million registered voters.
Polls suggest that a coalition led by the ruling Morena party is on track to retain its majority in the lower house of federal Congress, but the race has tightened in recent weeks.
Source: El Economista (sp)