By MARK LORENZANA
Ciro Murayama, electoral counselor for Mexico’s autonomous electoral organization, the National Electoral Institute (INE), detailed in a column for Mexican daily newspaper Reforma on Tuesday, Feb. 21, five reasons how President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) controversial Plan B electoral reform violates the INE’s autonomy.
One, according to Murayama, is that instead of the INE validating absentee votes from Mexican voters overseas, this will now be done by the federal government — specifically through the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs (SRE). “The federal government has no responsibility in this task. Therefore, it should not interfere,” wrote Murayama.
Two, it exposes the personal data of the voters. “The INE forms the electoral roll and safeguards the sensitive data of citizens, including biometrics such as fingerprints. For this, the INE has almost 900 modules throughout the country, where it serves 120,000 citizens a day,” revealed Murayama. “Well, Plan B puts the protection of this data at risk by claiming that the modules ‘should be located, preferably, in immovable property in the public domain of the municipalities, federal entities or the federation.’”
Three, the executive head of the INE will cease to function. “In the transitory Article 17 of Plan B, wrote Murayama, “it is established that ‘the person in charge of said position will cease to function as of its publication (of the decree).” However, Article 41 of the Mexican Constitution says that the executive secretary of the INE “shall be appointed with the vote of two-thirds of the general council at the proposal of its president.”
Four, it incorporates the government’s Internal Control Body (OIC) into the INE. The Constitution specifies that the INE comptroller will be in charge of “overseeing all income and expenses of the Institute,” but Plan B claims that the current OIC, which was appointed by government, will participate in the meetings that the executive secretary has for “the coordination of the activities of the executive and technical bodies of the INE.”
Five, and this is the most serious, according to Murayama: “it essentially abolishes the executive structure of the INE.” The Constitution defines that “the executive and technical bodies will have the qualified personnel necessary for the exercise of their powers.”
“The basic executive bodies are the 300 district executive boards,” according to Murayama, but “Plan B eliminates these executive boards and eliminates their five committees: executive, secretarial, federal voter registration, organization, as well as electoral training that, until today, are made up of qualified members of the National Electoral Professional Service.”
The INE electoral counselor further detailed that “since they (López Obrador’s government) failed to change the Constitution and make the INE disappear, they will mutilate its basic operational structure, which will prevent the electoral body from organizing authentic elections.”
“Is that the AMLO government’s main goal?” Murayama asked, ending his column.