2 Mexican independent candidates forced out of presidential election

MEXICO CITY ––Mexico’s electoral regulator said millions of signatures gathered to put independent candidates on the presidential ballot are unverifiable, disqualifying two candidates and providing a lift to leftist front-runner Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

More than 3 million signatures couldn’t be verified, leaving left-leaning Armando Rios Piter and former Gov. Jaime Rodriguez off the ballot and handing Margarita Zavala, former President Felipe Calderon’s wife, barely enough signatures to participate in July’s election, regulators said.

More political positions are to be filled in July’s general elections than in any other in the nation’s history, and it’s the first time independents have had the chance to run for president. But allegations of wide-scale forgery have thrown the question of allowing independents on the ballot into doubt. And with Zavala the only independent left, analysts say she’ll siphon support away from mainstream candidates polling second and third, leaving the leftist front-runner with an even larger lead than Lopez Obrador already has.

Before the two independents were excluded, only three presidential candidates had collected the required 866,593 signatures drawn from 17 of the county’s 31 states needed to qualify. While none had been polling well enough to contend, each was positioned to pull some support away from one of the three top candidates.

Mexico’s electoral regulator, known as INE, described the high percentage of unsubstantiated signatures — the majority of those collected — as resulting from fake voter IDs and invalid photocopies of real IDs.


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