And the officials in charge of this suspect election refused to re-count those votes in public. Everyone knew full well a fair count would certainly change the outcome.
You've heard this story before: Gore 2000. Kerry 2004.
But Lopez Obrador 2006 is made out of very different stuff than the scarecrow candidates who, oddly, call themselves "Democrats."
This past Saturday, my dream came true. Unfortunately, it was in Spanish -- but I'll take what I can get. There was Andreas Manuel Lopez Obrador, presidential challenger, standing in the "Zocalo" -- the square in front of Mexico's White House, telling the ruling clique inside, "Count the votes!"
Most important, his simple demand was echoed by half a million pissed-off, activated voters chanting with him, "Vota por vota!" -- vote by vote.
Traveling the USA, I'm asked again and again 'Why don't Democrats stand up when their elections are stolen?'
The answer: for the same reason jellyfish don't stand up... they're invertebrates.
I'm beginning to find that answer a bit too glib (though darn funny). Because it's not about electoral cojones; it's about a devotion to democracy deep in the bone. Yet weirdly, candidates that call themselves "Democrats" seem kind of, well, indifferent to democracy.
Why? Elections are the radical tool of the working class -- the great leveler of the powerless against the too-powerful. But the candidates themselves, both Republican and Democrat, tend to come from the privileged and pampered class. Votes are just the surfboards on which their ambitions ride.
Right now in Mexico's capitol, nearly a million ballots sit in tied bundles uncounted. That's four times the "official" margin of victory of the ruling party over Lopez Obrador. Supposedly, they're "votos nulos" -- null votes, unreadable. But, not surprisingly, when a few packets were opened, the majority of these supposedly unreadable votes were Lopez Obrador's.
In Florida, 179,855 ballots supposedly showed no vote for President. A closer look by the US Civil Rights Commission statisticians showed that 54% of those Florida "votos nulos" were cast by African-Americans. Did Black folk forget to vote for President, couldn't make up their minds or, as one TV network implied, were too dumb to figure out the ballot? Not at all. Machines can't count some ballots. But people can. For example, several voters wrote in, "Al Gore," which the machines rejected as his name was already printed on the ballot. The write-in could fool a machine but a human has no problem figuring out that voter's intent.
The National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago reviewed all 179,855 "uncountable" votes and found the majority attempted to choose Gore. And they would have been counted -- but Florida's Secretary of State, Katherine Harris, ordered a halt.