The seven myths of Mexico's election debunked

Can markers be erased? Can you vote for more than one candidate? Is the PREP controlled by Carlos Slim? Find out the answers to these and more myths here
The seven myths of Mexico's election debunked
Man casting his vote during the 2018 presidential election in Mexico – Photo: Edgard Garrido/ REUTERS
01/07/2018
10:55
Newsroom
Mexico City
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In the last three months, several chain messages swarmed social networks and WhatsApp, spreading false information to alert Mexican voters of possible practices which could endanger their votes. Here we have seven of the most popular ones:

1.- Markers swapped for pencils

One of the most discussed news was that the National Electoral Institute (INE) swapped markers for pencils in order to make electoral fraud easier. “Can the black pencils of the INE be erased?” Was the subject of several chain messages asking voters to bring their own markers to polling stations.

The INE has stated they've made tests with ballots and the black markers and that it's impossible to erase the “X” without leaving a mark on the ballot. Moreover, this erasure mark is fully visible and would serve as an indicator that the vote was modified.

Despite their explanation, the INE has confirmed voters are able to bring their own black markers to cast their votes on the ballots.

2.- Vote for two candidates at the same time

Another image which spread like wildfire was that it was possible to vote for two candidates so that vote could work against a third one. The image shows a ballot with an “X” in two boxes belonging to opposing candidates, urging citizens to “join forces.”

The INE has clarified through a video that this practice would be considered as a spoilt vote, given that only ballots with a single mark will be considered valid.

Voters can only mark two boxes if they belong to parties of the same coalition. Moreover, the INE has also approved to have citizens fill in the box in the lower right corner of the ballot with the full name, nickname, or last name of a registered candidate, or the full name of an unregistered one.

3.- Voting against animal cruelty

One of the most shared chain messages on Facebook was the one asking Mexican citizens to request, on election day, the “ballot to vote against animal cruelty and punish those who practice it.” The message adds that with 5,000 votes the bill will be passed; however, this information has been recycled several times since 2014 and has been used in Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia, and Perú. Moreover, the INE has been refuting the existence of this ballot since 2015.

4.- Your voter's card allows people to know whom you've voted for

Hundreds of social network users have asked if political parties request a copy of a voter's card to know whom that voter voted for. According to the information provided by the Specialized Attorney's Office against Electoral Crimes (FEPADE), this isn't possible. These documents are used, mostly, to create databases with information and “simulate” support for political parties or so these parties can create their own list of affiliates but no, they cannot know whom you've voted for.

5.-Ballots distributed earlier

A video on WhatsApp claimed that electoral ballots had been distributed earlier to the State of Mexico and that the packages had broken safety seals and were incomplete. The video was originally streamed in 2015 for the intermediate elections. The INE has clarified the team of Verificado 2018 that ballots arrive with a maximum of five days prior to election day but not earlier.

6.- The PREP is controlled by Carlos Slim

Chain messages claimed the INE had canceled the agreement they had with the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) to oversee the cybersecurity of the Preliminary Results Program (PREP) and that they had given it to Scitum, a company managed by Carlos Slim and Diego Hildebrando Zavala – brother of Margarita Zavala.

Lorenzo Córdova, President Councilor of the INE, clarified that Scitum wasn't in charge of the PREP. The INE indeed hired the services of the company but just to prevent hackings. Moreover, the INE is in charge of the entire development and operation of the preliminary results of the election.

7.- Ballots can be counterfeited

Ciro Murayama, an INE Councilor, claimed during an interview that it's impossible to counterfeit ballots since they are made with a special paper and have watermarks and fibers visible only in UV light.

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