Mexicans are attending polls this Sunday to elect the new president and both chambers of the legislative branch at a federal level. As expected, fraud accusations have been rolling in for days and reports on vote buying, stealing ballots and violence are increasing.
The attorney’s office, which specializes in electoral crimes, registered 1,106 complaints since Thursday. According to Hector Diaz Santana, head of the office, this elections’ staple has been violence, but that’s something the public security authorities have to deal with.
Regarding the common electoral crimes, Diaz Santana said only about 324 complaints had been received by 2:00 p.m. local time and at least 17 people were arrested. Among the most common crimes are vote buying and the stealing of IDs used to vote.
A group of 60 social organizations known together as Citizen Action Against Poverty (ACFP), reported the price for vote buying skyrocketed from US$25 in May up to US$500 ($10,000 Mexican pesos) a couple of days before Sunday’s election.
Voters are also offered provision boxes, household appliances, electronic wallets, construction materials, or are receiving threats about losing their jobs or social benefits if such candidate loses.
“Neighbors and representatives of the Radical Path party denounced handing of provision boxes and construction materials in Valle de Bravo, State of Mexico, to supposedly benefit the PRI mayor Mauricio Osorio Dominguez, who’s aiming for reelection.”
Similar cases have been reported in several municipalities, especially coming from the ruling Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI) and its satellite organizations. However, reports have been filed against every electoral coalition with no exceptions, according to the ACFP.
Unfortunately, this is a normal electoral day in Mexico. Every time there are multiple reports of vote buying, stealing ballot boxes, or threatening people to vote for a certain candidate. Things are calmer now. Decades ago, it was normal to have armed groups attacking polling stations or people in the streets. Now, these reports are few and more people trust the electoral system, even though many remain critical and vigilant.
Another common problem is that of the special polling stations located in several cities across Mexico. Citizens must vote in their place of residence registered on their national IDs, but if they move from city or state and don’t inform the electoral authorities, they still have the chance to vote in one of these special stations. However, the ballots sent to this stations have proven to be insufficient.
Reports across the country say voters in several special stations are growing desperate due to the lack of ballots, some waiting for hours in the line only to find out they will not be able to vote.
“#Elections2018 In the special polling station in the 5 de Mayo Park in Tuxtla Gutierrez, the people is shouting “we want to vote” because the available 750 ballots were already used.”
The electoral authorities announced there would be a limited number of 750 ballots in every special polling station. This was agreed on by every party with no complaint, and the measure was announced in advance. But many voters claim the number of special ballots is way below the needed, especially in Mexico City and surrounding areas where there’s a high rate of internal migration.
“Voters in #Ecatepec are demanding more ballots because the special ballots for the presidency ran out. They’re shouting “corruption” and “we want ballots.” They’ve been waiting for 4 hours. There’s total confusion. #PresidentialElections2018 #MexicoElections”
As an alternative method, people in special polling stations are designing their own ballots, but the electoral authorities already said this won’t be valid.
In Sevina, state of Michoacan, the local electoral authorities decided to take away the special station to avoid further violence, as neighboring communities were boycotting the process.
The authorities refrained from installing polling stations in several communities in the state of Jalisco, mostly wixarika Indigenous communities, due to their boycott of the electoral process.
Also, a video recorded by a woman in Iztapalapa, in Mexico City, shows that the indelible ink used to mark citizens’ thumbs after voting can be perfectly cleaned with a little bit of hands soap.
Violence is another of Mexico’s greatest problems during the electoral days. In the Santiago el Pinar municipality, state of Chiapas, an armed group opened fire against polling station officials, injuring 15. Authorities report things under control, but the elections were temporarily suspended in the municipality.
In Coatzintla, state of Veracruz, the local electoral authorities decided to temporarily close down the stations due to the presence of armed groups moving around it.