Police operations against suspected postal vote-buying schemes are marking the end of the election campaign. One every 24 hours: Tuesday, 10 arrested in Melilla; Wednesday, 7 arrested in Mojácar (Almeria), and yesterday, 13 more in a small town in Murcia. And these judicialized operations have been joined in the last few days by accusations - and denunciations - of a different nature against political opponents for the same alleged fraudulent practices: sums 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 quickly to prevent electoral fraud in the autonomous city; which generated the most concern. Mail-in vote requests skyrocketed before the campaign even started, and that set off all the alarms. Almost 20% of the census asked for postal suffrage, while the average across Spain does not reach 3% in total.
Although the investigation is progressing on its course - waiting to know what the political scope will be -, the requirement of the DNI to deposit the vote at the Post Office has caused more than 8,000 suspicious votes to be left out of the system. According to data from the Ministry of the Interior, of the 11,727 postal votes requested as of yesterday, 3,612 had been executed. 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 ID. These 8,088 in Melilla who requested to vote by mail but ultimately did not vote by post will not be able to go to vote at the polling stations next Sunday.
In Mojácar, with 7,500 inhabitants, the Popular Party obtained an absolute majority in the municipal elections with 1,692 votes against the 1,145 votes of 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 necessary to present the DNI when the vote is delivered to the Post Office - it is only necessary when it is requested. Civil Guard investigators have indications that the PSOE-affiliated plot gave 100 euros to immigrant neighbors when they left the Post Office branches after voting. During the searches, they found records and census lists that will probably make it possible to elucidate the extent of the alleged electoral fraud.
The last case occurred yesterday in Albudeite. The Civil Guard launched an operation against an alleged plot to vote by mail that was detected during surveillance of another anti-drug operation. The Civil Guard 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 in which they stated that they will not tolerate any kind of lack of exemplarity". "If the facts are confirmed [...] they will be expelled immediately and the positions they hold will be terminated".
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 the postal vote. Or as in Bigastre (Alicante), where the socialists have appealed to the Prosecutor's Office to charge an adviser to the PP government for allegedly threatening residents with the loss of aid if they did not vote for the popular ballot.