MEXICO CITY – Vote-buying and other types of electoral fraud in the central state of Mexico are commonplace and well known to citizens, who often engage in these practices for fear of losing social benefits.
The Special Prosecutor’s Office for Electoral Offenses has thus far received 246 complaints of fraud from that coveted state, which the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) has dominated for 88 years but which the polls show could fall to the left-wing National Regeneration Movement (Morena) in Sunday’s gubernatorial elections.
During the campaign, the candidates of Morena, Delfina Gomez, and the conservative National Action Party (PAN), Josefina Vazquez Mota, have used accusations of vote-buying as yet another weapon in their arsenals.
Far from being isolated occurrences, citizens are aware that fraudulent practices are customary as elections approach.
One woman in Mexico state says that the PRI paid her 3,000 pesos (around $161) in 2015 to watch over a polling station during municipal elections in Villa Guerrero and that the party instructed her to denounce vote-buying if an opposition party were winning, even if those allegations were not true.
Ines – a fictitious name to protect her identity – said the PRI was now offering 1,000 pesos per vote. Those looking to collect the money must take a photo of the ballot before casting it and show it as proof of which candidate they chose.
She says, however, that these promises are often broken.
“They trick people. They promise them money, and at the end of the day they don’t give it to them,” Ines said of her own experience in the previous gubernatorial elections in 2011, when she said she was told funds would be deposited in a debit card if Eruviel Avila won. Despite his victory, she said that never happened.
The element of fear also is used to manipulate voters.
Some cast their ballot based on what their boss tells them to do, while others think if they do not vote for the PRI they will lose federal welfare payments.
“Those are the fears they put into people,” said Ines, who added that because of their financial necessity it is hard for people to see how counterproductive these practices are for the region.