The police operations against the alleged plots to buy and sell votes by mail are marking the end of the electoral campaign. One every 24 hours: on Tuesday, 10 detainees in Melilla; on Wednesday, seven arrested in Mojácar (Almería), and yesterday another 13 in a small town in Murcia. And in recent days, accusations –and complaints– of different kinds have been added to these judicialized operations against political adversaries for the same alleged fraudulent practices: amounts of money –or promises of employment– in exchange for votes.
Despite the noise generated by the replicas of the Melilla case, the truth is that the authorities mobilized in an agile manner to prevent electoral fraud in the autonomous city; the one that caused the most concern. Requests to vote by mail skyrocketed before the campaign began and that set off all the alarm bells. Almost 20% of the census requested postal suffrage, while the average in all of Spain does not reach 3% in total.
Although the investigation is in progress – pending the discovery of its political scope – the requirement of the DNI to deposit the vote in the Post Office has caused more than 8,000 suspected votes to remain outside the system. According to data from the Ministry of the Interior, of the 11,727 votes by mail requested, 3,612 had been executed as of yesterday. But only 704 votes of the 61,048 people who are called to the polls in Melilla were delivered to the Post Office without the requirement of the DNI. Those 8,088 Melillans who requested to vote by mail but have not finally executed their suffrage by post, will not be able to go next Sunday to vote at the polling stations.
In Mojácar, with 7,500 inhabitants, the Popular Party achieved an absolute majority in the municipal elections with 1,692 votes compared to 1,145 votes for the Socialists. A handful of votes can tip the scales one way or the other. Here, as in the rest of Spain, it is not mandatory to present the DNI when the vote is delivered at the Post Office – only when requested. The Civil Guard investigators have indications that the plot related to the PSOE delivered 100 euros to immigrant neighbors after they left the Post Office branches after executing their vote. In the records they found receipts and census lists that probably allow elucidating the scope of the alleged electoral fraud.
The last case jumped yesterday in Albudeite. The Civil Guard launched an operation against a presumed vote-by-mail scheme that was detected during wiretapping of another anti-drug operation. La Benemérita arrested 13 people. Among them, the candidate for mayor of this town, Isabel Peñalver, and number 19 on the socialist list of the Region of Murcia, Héctor Antonio Martínez. Also number six on the municipal list. The PSOE reacted through a statement stating that they will not "tolerate any type of lack of exemplarity." "If the facts are confirmed [...] they will be immediately expelled and terminated from the positions they hold."
These cases were mixed with others that are not –yet– under judicial mandate, such as that of Villalba del Alcor (Huelva), where the PSOE has denounced the Popular Party for "fraud" in voting by mail. The same as in Bigastro (Alicante). , where the Socialists have resorted to the Prosecutor's Office to charge an adviser to the PP government for allegedly threatening neighbors with the loss of aid if they did not choose the popular ballot.