Some, one, or none of the above
El Economista has a nice simple over-view of the Mexican ballot. There are eight boxes on the ballot, each one but the last showing a party logo and the name of the presidential candidate. The last one is blank. Voters write an “X” in the box of their choice.
Fusion tickets are common here, and so, Enrique Peña Nieto shows up on the ballot as the candidate for two different parties (PRI and the Green Party boxes) and Andres Manuel López Obrador shows up three times (as the PRD, Movimiento Ciudadano and the Workers’ Party candidate). PAN (Josefina Vásquez Mota) and PANAL (Gabriel Quadri), as single party candidates, only show up once. The blank box is for “none of the above”.
While the blank box is new, and could possibly get a sizable number of votes (there are several organizations recommending null votes as a protest against the entire political establishment… how many of those who reject conventional politics but go to the polls anyway is probably worth counting) what is very important is a minor, overlooked change. Had it been the rule in 2006, it might have meant a completely different presidency.
Which party receives votes doesn’t really matter when it comes to electing the President, but whether the party or the coalition receives the vote matters when it comes to appointing Senators to proportional representation seats and to determining funding levels for the parties in the next election cycle. What’s different this time is that if the voter marks two or more of the same candidate’s boxes, the parties don’t get the vote, but the candidate does.
In 2006, the ballots also had boxes for the candidates, AND for their coalition. Then, as now, the PRI and Greens ran a fusion candidate and López Obrador was also running as the presidential candidate for three parties also. But, if a voter marked the coalition and/or one or more of the other boxes for their candidate, the vote was considered a “double vote”, and didn’t count as a vote for anyone .
Based on late returns, López Obrador lost in 2006 by only 243,934 votes, or 0.58 percent to Felipe Calderón. Although the ballots were later destroyed, we know that two and a half percent of all ballots were disallowed either because they were left blank (a vote for “none of the above”) or more than one box for a candidate was marked. Whether that two and a half percent included enough votes to change the outcome (Calderón was a single party candidate and his voters only had to select a single box) is impossible to say, though it is within the realm of possibility.
At least as of today, the polls suggest that the final results will not be anywhere near as close as they were in 2006, but not having had a “normal” election since multi-party elections became a reality after 1994, I don’t think there is any real way to predict the outcome only a week and a half into the three month campaign.