Page 24


tend sometirhe in the middle of the event to a local PRI candidate who said that the police should stop beating up young people and that ‘young people should vote for the PRI. The PRI’ s courtship, however, ‘had a shadier side. Santos Ramirez, a Neza resident and longtime member of the PM, was asked by his PRI-affiliated union to attend the closing rally of PRI presidential midi. date Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon. “There were many, many people at Zedillo’ s final campaign rally,” said Ramirez, “but that’s because they bused us all to ‘ the Zocalo our names off on a list. There were also many, many people at the closing rallies of the opposition candidates, Cuauhtemoc Cardenas and Diego Fernandez de Cevallos. Eut they wanted to go and made the effort themselves to get to the Zocalo, because they felt inspired.” Other Neza residents, who asked for anonymity, said their PRI-affiliated union leaders threatened to dock two or three days’ pay if workers failed to attend PRI campaign rallies. Several merchants who sell in the moveable markets known as tianguises said they were told by the PM-affiliated organization that rents them spaces that if they did not attend PRI rallies they would lose their places in the markets. Where courtship and outright threats failed, the PRI employed trickery to convince people to attend party rallies. Just over Neza’s border in Mexico City, a group of neighbors laughed about a recent attempt by the PRI to lure them to a party campaign function. A man with a megaphone arrived on the block and announced, “Cuauhtemoc has invited you all to attend his final campaign rally.” The neighbors thought it was Cuauhtemoc Cardenas who had invited them. They flooded out of their houses and gathered in the street only to discover that the candidate was Cuauhtemoc Gutierrez, a PREsta. “Cuauhtemoc is not too common a name, said one of the. neighbors, “so all of us thought it was Cardenas. When we found out it was the PRI, we went back home.” On the day of the vote, a number of residents spoke of PRIistas who tried their best to pressure voters, while working within the new electoral process meant to protect against fraud. The new electoral system selected citizens at random, on the basis of birthdays in November or December, to serve as voting booth officials. Those selected took a two-hour training course, received a guide to study and were assigned positions at the voting booths on the basis of age, level of education and how well they understood the material covered in the course. In theory, no members of political parties could serve as voting booth officials. Instead, two members of each party could serve as “party representatives.” But the party representatives of the PRI seemed un able to hand the reins of the electoral process over to the neutral authorities. Several Neza residents said PRI representatives at the voting booths accosted voters as they entered the private booths to mark “X”s on their ballots. One resident said the PM representative told voters. “Put your mark here,” and pointed to the PRI logo on the ballot. “The vote is libre y secreto \(free and sesentative of the opposition Democratic vote. “But people are not sure what they believe. They’re not firm in their ideas. They’re easily pressured if an authority tells them to vote a certain way. We need more education,” he said. “We’re babies in this process of a democratic vote.” In Neza’ s 23rd voting district, at voting booth 3303, PRI representative Miguel Angel Ibarra Regil found it difficult to watch in silence as political representatives were required to do unless they had a reason to challenge the officials. He directed voters to the ballot, boxes and, according to two opposition party representatives, from the PRD and the Partido Autentico de la ple to vote for the. PM. The two representatives also accused him of entering booths where people were voting. The PRD representative asked that his name not be used. “It could cause us problems,” he said. But it seemed that the very fact that they had complained in public had already invited problems. Two old-style PRlistas in guayabera shirts and dark glasses pointed out the complainers until the two young opposition representatives grew nervous. Two representatives from the Federal ing booth 3303. Both wore special ID tags that identified them as objective observers. But instead of taking note of the PRI’ s illegal pressure tactics, they took down all the data on this and another journalists’ press passes. Later in the day, the PRI representative who acted chummy with Ibarra hugged the observer from the WE, Esther Curiel Reyna, as if they were old friends. The episode raised doubts about how separate the government was from the PRI during the electoral process. In District 28 at voting booth 3606, for yet another example, a local PRI candidate, Jose Luis Salcedo, sent invitations to poll workers to a sit-down lunch at a nearby marketplace. When the two PRI representatives at the voting booth, Juliana Tello Bucio and her daughter Piedad, realized that reporters were present, they signaled the man who had come to invite election officials to lunch. The man, Agustin Ugarte, explained in private that Salcedo had asked him to distribute lunch vouchers, but he had run out of them because there were more workers than they had expected. The vouchers were good for lunch at a nearby marketplace, far more appealing than the skimpy sandwiches the WE had distributed to voting booth officials. When Juanita Tello was asked if the PRI candidate had invited everyone to lunch, she said, “We always give each other things to eat, we’re like a big family.” In other words, she did not deny that the PRI invited even the neutral officials to lunch. Back at voting booth 3303 during the vote count at the end of the day, PRI representative Ibarra seemed to think he was running the show. “Put the ballots here,” he said. “Count these first.” Some officials followed his directions. During the vote count, he chided them with “Hurry up!” and as an official counted votes for the PRI one by one, Ibarra counted out loud by twos and then laughed, “See, I’m not cheating!” One of the officials finally asked him to show some respect, but that did little to deter Ibarra. In the end, 80 percent of the voters assigned to vot= ing booth 3303 cast their ballots. About 45 percent favored the PRI, 20 percent the Par15 percent for the PRD. The results fit the profile of a national tally of 70 percent of all the votes cast in the country. Most polling place officials seemed to perform their duties without personal or political interest, although a few minor mechanical problems in the voting procedure should be mentioned. In one case,’ an official had separated ballots from numbered folio pads. When she was told to separate the ballots one by one for each voter she corrected her mistake. At many voting booths only one official instead of two checked voters’ electoral cards. And in a few cases where voters refused to let officials mark their thumbs with indelible ink were allowed to vote anyway. In the 25th electoral district at voting booth 2076, just over Neza’ s border in Mexico City, the indelible ink seemed to vary in strength. In two cases, when it was wiped off voters’ thumbs immediately, it left no mark. If wiped off 10 seconds or more after application, however, it did leave an indelible stain. These problems are minor, however, compared to a glaring and inexplicable oversight in the voting procedure that raises serious doubts about the entire procedure on a national level. The Mexican government announced that all ballots delivered to polls would be attached to numbered folios, which would remain attached to the voting pad at the end of the day. This precaution presumably would prevent the possibility of ballot box stuffing. But the ballots themselves did not have numbers. if voting fraud did occur, perhaps not at the voting booth but later in the process after the ballots had arrived at the district electoral centers or at the IFE itself, then it would be impossible 14 SEPTEMBER 2, 1994