Mexico update9: Calderón set to win official count by a hair; López Obrador demands recount

I'll update this as developments warrant and bump it to the top.

I crashed at around 4 am with López Obrador clinging to a quarter-point lead. That turned around while I snoozed and Calderón's lead -- 0.45% -- just exceeded the 0.44% of ballots that remain to be counted. He'll win the official count.

Now the action begins.

López Obrador will demand a ballot-by-ballot recount. Mexico's election authority, the IFE, says the tally was perfect, and that there's no need. Calderón, who's claimed victory since Sunday, will paint López Obrador as a hothead who's unwilling to accept the will of the people.

But López Obrador has consistently said that he'll honor the results of a fair count, even if he were to lose by a single vote.

Most observers say the process has generally been clean, and the authorities have worked hard to maintain people's confidence. But there have also been persistent reports of irregularities, some quite serious.

Ted Lewis, head of the Global Exchange observer mission, told El Universal that his team witnessed vote buying first-hand in the states of Oaxaca and San Luis Potosí. Earlier this week El Universal reported the discovery of ten ballot boxes from a poor Mexico City neighborhood in a dumpster.

These kinds of scattered reports would not be significant if either candidate had scored a 5-point win, but with the margin of victory looking like it'll be around a half-point, all of the issues raised will be viewed as proof-positive that the fix was in. It looks like Mexico is headed for a drawn-out fight over the presidency.

The most troubling report I've seen so far is this:
But more alarming than the vote-buying, Lewis said, were discrepancies in the vote count found by statistical specialists working for Global Exchange and its Mexican partner Alianza Cívica (Civic Alliance), which also observed the polling process.
"We´re not at the point where we´re ready to say electoral fraud but we´re really quite disturbed," Lewis said. "We didn´t expect to see this level of irregularity."
He said the groups´ experts had found that the number of votes for Congress in various instances exceeded the number of votes for the presidency in states where López Obrador reportedly won, while the opposite was true in states where Calderón was the victor.
López Obrador has called for protests this Saturday, as he was expected to do in this circumstance.

I'll have more later (I've got to run). Also, more on the way about Greg Palast's … "reporting."

The Institute for Policies Studies' Chuck Collins, who observed the elections with Global Exchange, has been an invaluable resource for me, and I'd like to give him a big shout out. I owe him a beer in a big way.

***

La Jornada and La Reforma are both still updating their totals. As of 12:45 pm am EST, Lopez Obrador clings to a lead of 0.85 precent, with a bit more than 93% percent of the count completed. I'm going to try to take a cat-nap, which means at least a 50% chance I'll crash for the night. Night owls stay tuned to those sites.

***

At 10:12 PM Eastern time, the IFE suspended the count announcements of vote totals that were released every ten minutes during the day. Luis Carlos Ugalde, the head of the institute, said the count will continue all night if need be, and the final results will be released as soon as possible. Just under 90% of the official tally is completed and Lopez Obrador holds onto a 1.25% lead. I've made inquiries into what's happening and will update if needed. The announcement, in Spanish, is in the comments.

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