Most political candidates take advantage of the electioneering period to pay out lots of money and gifts to the electorate in a bid to sway their decisions in their favour or against their opponents. Many African countries have tried to stem this habit but only a few have managed to successfully pass a law to criminalise the process. One of these countries is Malawi, which passed the Political Parties Act that came to effect on December 1, 2018. The law bans politicians from using cash payments and other incentives to get support ahead of elections in 2019.
Thousands of Georgians have staged a mass protest over the results of the country’s presidential runoff vote, alleging widespread electoral fraud and demanding snap parliamentary elections. About 25,000 opposition supporters demonstrated in the capital, Tbilisi, on Sunday, days after the former Soviet nation elected its first woman president, Salome Zurabishvili. An independent candidate backed by the ruling Georgian Dream party, Zurabishvili claimed almost 60 percent of the vote to beat the opposition candidate Grigol Vashadze on Wednesday. But opposition leaders including Vashadze have refused to accept the result, pointing to instances of alleged vote-buying, voter intimidation and ballot-stuffing in the election’s second round.
The game has changed. The days are gone where rampant and widespread ballot-box snatching, political thuggery, and falsification of figures at collation centres define election rigging in Nigeria.Today, vote-buying is the name of the game and just as an election observer and monitoring group, Yiaga Africa, has described, vote-buying is the new way of election rigging by politicians in the country. Projector Director of Yiaga Africa, Cynthia Mbamalu, said in Osogbo yesterday at a Media Round Table Discussion tagged ‘Watching The Vote’ ahead of the September 22 governorship election in Osun State.Mbamalu said vote-buying was becoming a threat to Nigerian electoral process, adding that all hands must be on deck to put an end to the menace. “Nowadays, the more money you give, the more votes you get and this is becoming a problem and a challenge to our electoral process.”
The woman in a long black shawl bustled up to a stall on a back street in the crowded Nile Delta city of Tanta, 50 miles north of Cairo. “Where’s my subsidy box?” she demanded. “My brothers and sisters in Cairo have already received theirs. When do I get mine?” The woman, Soad Abdel Hamid, a housewife, was referring to boxes of subsidized food — cooking oil, rice and sugar, mostly — promised to voters in many poor areas in return for casting their vote in Egypt’s presidential election. With no real opponent to provide drama in his re-election bid, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is relying on the sheer enthusiasm of his supporters to generate a credible turnout. And where fervor isn’t enough, he has other means of enticing — or pushing — voters to the polls.
While some voting stations ran out of ballots, social media users also posted numerous videos showing alleged irregularities including vote buying. Colombia’s legislative elections and interparty primaries have created a stir in the South American nation, after major irregularities were reported by NGOs, candidates and social media users. The Electoral Observer Mission (OEM) – which had warned of the risk of fraud in hundreds of municipalities in the run-up to the elections –reported numerous inconsistencies as videos surfaced on social media appearing to show vote-buying and other fraudulent activities. “Unauthorized information desks” had been set up in front of polling stations in various towns “with lists of voters and transportation ready to receive them,” the OEM said.
Electoral authorities of El Salvador will start today a final countdown of the legislative and municipal elections, among international denunciations of ballot-buying. Preliminary counting already left a very precise idea of the result of elections carried out last Sunday, characterized mainly to abstentionism and null votes, that favored rightwing Arena Party.
Late into the night at a small rural Chinese village of just 29 households, the lights of each household were still turned on. The village, which ordinarily would have been asleep, was as bustling as on the eve of the Lunar New Year. It was the night before the village’s general election. The homes had left their lights on as a signal to invite each candidate to come inside and “buy” their vote. This scene was described by one of the residents of Sanxian village in North China’s Shanxi Province. The resident told the Global Times that buying votes frequently happens at many Shanxi village elections, “and some villagers don’t turn off their lights until accepting money from every candidate.” A similar scenario happened in Nailin village of Shanxi on January 6, which drew nationwide attention. China Youth Daily reported that each candidate running for village head had paid each villager 1,000 yuan ($159) each. Screen shots of text messages and photos of villagers counting their money were posted online.
European observers said on Monday vote-buying and significant procedural problems marred Kyrgyzstan’s presidential vote, though they praised the move towards an orderly transfer of power in the volatile ex-Soviet state. Sooronbai Jeenbekov, a protege of the outgoing president, won on Sunday with 55 percent – a stronger result than the near tie polls had predicted. Opposition leader Omurbek Babanov conceded defeat but said he would investigate irregularities. The election is seen as a test of stability in the central Asian country where Russia still holds considerable sway and two previous leaders were ousted in violent riots. Kyrgyz news website Turmush.kg published a video showing hundreds of Babanov supporters rallying outside a local government building in his home Talas region. But there were no reports of violence.
A hotly contested state election in Mexico is heading to court after the president’s cousin was declared the victor amid widespread allegations of voter intimidation, vote buying and misuse of public resources. Alfredo del Mazo Maza, the candidate for the Institutional Revolutionary party (PRI), was declared the winner after early results in the state of Mexico gave him a two-point lead over Delfina Gómez of the leftwing National Regeneration party (Morena). But with the vote so close, Morena – led by the populist firebrand Andres Manuel López Obrador– is refusing to accept the initial results. The full count will not be completed before 7 June, after which Morena will almost certainly seek that the election be annulled.
The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has criticised Armenia’s weekend election, saying it had been tainted by instances of vote-buying and interference. President Serzh Sarksyan’s ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) won Sunday’s elections, official results showed, laying the foundation for a new parliamentary system of government. The OSCE said in a statement the elections were well-administered and fundamental freedoms were generally respected. But, it added, they had been marked by organisational problems and undue interference in the process, mostly by party representatives. It also noted some pressure on civil servants as well as private sector employees.
In a national television appearance on Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell knocked down claims of wide-scale voting fraud in the presidential election. While tossing cold water on President Trump’s repeated (and unsubstantiated) claims of fraud impacting the election, McConnell did say that vote fraud is real, it happens, and Kentucky has a history of it. “… the Democratic myth that voter fraud is a fiction, is not true,” McConnell said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “We’ve had a series of significant cases in Kentucky over the years. There is voter fraud in the country.” Our reporting pals at WAVE-3 in Louisville asked McConnell’s office for details. His office responded with a link to our newsroom’s August 2016 article on Kentucky’s history of vote buying. So, is McConnell right? Is fraud rampant in Kentucky? No, not really. The answer is complicated, though, and it boils down to semantics.
China’s top legislature has expelled 45 lawmakers, or nearly half the number elected from Liaoning province, over a bribery and vote-buying scandal. The decision — announced at a highly unusual emergency meeting of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) on Tuesday — comes after a two-year investigation by the Communist Party’s anti-graft watchdog into election fraud in the northeastern province. China’s national and provincial lawmakers are chosen through a multitiered voting system, with members within the legislative bodies electing candidates mostly nominated by the party. An estimated 523 lawmakers out of the 619 members of Liaoning’s People’s Congress were implicated in the scandal, which involved paying “enormous amount of money” to their peers to get elected in 2013, said sources close to the investigation, which concluded in June.
In an unprecedented move in the history of Tamil Nadu”s electoral politics, the Election Commission of India (EC) on Saturday decided to rescind its poll notification in two constituencies following conclusive evidence of bribery of voters on a large scale. Quite shockingly, the EC has noted that bribing of voters continued in one of the constituencies after the postponement of polls in Aravakurichi constituency in Karur district and Thanjavur constituency, both in central Tamil Nadu, on charges of irregularities. Tamil Nadu went to polls on May 16 but polling in the two constituencies was deferred at the eleventh hour – first in Aravakurichi and then in Thanjavur. Originally the deferred polls were to take place on May 23 but the EC withheld its decision after the PMK and BJP”s candidates moved the Madras High Court seeking postponing of the elections.
Jayson was a first-time voter in the Dominican Republic, or would have been, if he’d had any intention of voting. Instead he was figuring out how to turn his ballot card into cash. In the end, the 19-year-old said he got 1,000 pesos ($22) in return for surrendering the ID during Sunday’s presidential election. Jayson had a Plan B to solicit bids — “I’ll go around with my card on my forehead” — but didn’t need to use it. His friend, Luis, 21, did even better. He said he was paid about $28 to vote for the ruling Dominican Liberation Party: “I took the money but then I just voted for who I wanted anyway.’’ As President Danilo Medina cruised toward re-election, with 62 percent of the vote according to early counts, opposition parties were crying fraud — in fact, almost everyone was. Across the country and the political spectrum, candidates said buying of ID cards and votes was rife. Local TV stations showed transactions under way right in front of polling stations.
This year will see the Philippines’ third automated polls – the first one was the elections in 2010. But though automation means more security in vote-counting and faster results, it cannot prevent irregularities such as vote-buying – an acknowledged fact in a country where 60 per cent of the people live below the poverty line. Marcelino Farjardo, a 58-year-old tricycle driver, earns around 300 to 500 pesos (US$6-10) a day. He supplements this income with earnings from his family-run internet shop which earns him an additional US$15-21 a week. However, with five children to feed life is still a struggle, so when politicians make the rounds in the run-up to elections offering gifts, holidays and money in exchange for a vote, it can be hard to resist. “If it will help my people, why not? … Tricycle drivers are poor too,” he said.
National: Republican says delegate vote-buying and gifts are part of ‘the free market of politics’ | ABC
“Cash is on the table,” veteran Republican Marti Halverson says. “I don’t know why you’re so shocked.” This is not the response I was expecting — my mouth gaping. I had just finished asking Wyoming National committeewoman Mrs Halverson about the “wooing” of delegates to switch their vote in this very-likely-to-be-contested upcoming Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. Ms Halverson is also opposed to any rule that would stop delegates accepting gifts. “This is a great country,” she said. “We give presents to our friends. No, I would not vote for a rule that said candidates cannot ‘woo’ delegates. I wouldn’t do that. It’s not the American way.” But what is the difference between wooing someone and buying their vote without cash? “Cash is on the table,” she replied. “Absolutely. It is going around that delegates are going to be offered free trips to Cleveland. Not Wyoming delegates, we haven’t heard that. But it is on the table. It is not illegal.”
A lower electoral board in Peru said Wednesday it was opening a formal inquiry into whether presidential hopeful Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, the chief rival of front-runner Keiko Fujimori, broke a new law against vote buying. If electoral authorities find the center-right candidate improperly bought beer and liquor for an Andean town, as alleged by opponents he would be barred from April 10 elections. Analysts said the board would likely keep Kuczynski in the race, especially after the same lower electoral board cleared Fujimori of similar allegations. The country’s five-member National Jury of Elections is expected to hand down a final ruling on Fujimori this week to settle an appeal.
Keiko Fujimori, the front-runner in Peru’s presidential election, was cleared of trying to buy votes, saving the election from slipping into farce after two other leading candidates were barred and another accused of irregularities. Fujimori didn’t offer or hand out money or gifts in exchange for votes, government news agency Andina reported, citing a ruling by the Lima Centro 1 electoral board. The ruling follows allegations she participated in a ceremony where a member of her Fuerza Popular party gave prize money to the winners of a dance contest. Fujimori has had at least 30 percent support in polls for the past two years and disqualifying her would have thrown the election wide open barely two weeks before the April 10 vote. The electoral board already excluded two of Fujimori’s rivals this month. Moreover, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, the second-placed candidate, was accused this week of breaking the country’s new vote-buying rules.
In closing arguments yesterday in the Supreme court, lawyers for Amama Mbabazi, the main challenger to President Museveni’s re-election victory, worked harder than ever to prove the charges of voter bribery, intimidation and disenfranchisement of voters against the president. But without supporting evidence, the lawyers came for tough questioning from Chief Justice Katureebe. They also couldn’t prove that discarding the old voters’ register by the Electoral Commission affected the outcome of the presidential and parliamentary elections. The Mbabazi lawyers however, did a good job poking holes into the Electoral Commission’s handling of polling on election day and the final declaration of results. In his robust presentation, Mbabazi’s lead counsel, Mohmed Mbabazi, told court that President Museveni’s victory should be nullified because the Electoral Commission did not rely on hard copies of the declaration of results forms and tally sheets from districts when declaring the winner.
In a city where voter fraud is part of local lore, prosecutors are examining allegations by a Chicago alderman and others that campaign workers are paying people to vote for a Democrat involved in one of Illinois’ most contentious legislative elections. Sally Daly, a spokeswoman for Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, said Monday that the office’s election unit is “looking into” a complaint against state Rep. Ken Dunkin of Chicago. The complaint was first lodged by Alderman Pat Dowell, a supporter of Dunkin’s opponent in the Democratic primary who on Sunday released videos that she says were made by “volunteers” who entered a Dunkin campaign office to secretly record the payments. A spokesman for Dunkin has called the accusations “baseless.”
One week before Uganda’s February 18 presidential and parliamentary elections, main opposition candidate Kizza Besigye of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), says he fears voter bribery could be one of the obstacles to his victory. Besigye ran against President Museveni in three previous elections: 2001, 2006, and 2011. Earlier this week, Ugandan government spokesman Ofwono Opondo said the ruling party, the National Resistance Movement (NRM), will once again deflate what he called the Besigye “bravado” on election day. Besigye said given the extremely high enthusiasm Ugandans have shown toward his campaign, perhaps Opondo was referring to the three previous elections that, he said, the government stole from him.
Vote-buying and other misuses of campaign funds accounted for most violations of election rules during the second round of Egypt’s parliamentary elections, according to various bodies responsible for observing the poll. Observers highlighted several types of infringement related to the use of political funds by candidates over the two-day voting period. These included the distribution of money bribes, food and drinks, posters and flyers, as well as the use of microbuses to advertise the candidates and transfer voters. Children were also seen wearing campaign t-shirts outside polling stations. Mohamed El-Shentnawy, manager of the parliamentary observatory mission led by the Maat foundation, told Daily News Egypt: “The candidates were well prepared for this round. They avoided repeating the mistakes of the first round, and used creative methods of bribery which resulted in the improved turnout of 17% in this round, compared with around 11% to 12% in the first round.”
Mauricio Macri’s surprisingly strong showing against Daniel Scioli in the Oct. 25 presidential election shook up Argentina’s political landscape. The main question before the election was whether Scioli, the candidate of president Cristina Fernández’s Front for Victory (FPV) alliance, could gain enough votes to avoid a runoff election. Since Scioli led many of the polls by more than 10 points over Macri, the front-runner and mayor of Buenos Aires, the concern was whether he could get either 45 percent of the vote or 40 percent and a 10-point advantage over the second place candidate — the conditions necessary to win in the first round without a runoff. Indeed, many pundits speculated that Macri would go the way of Mexico’s Andres Manuel López Obrador, claiming the election was stolen from him. None of this happened.
Local observing organisations issued a report stating that the elections saw some violations mostly involving the buying of votes and voters being unable to cast ballots for various reasons. The report came on Tuesday after Egyptians in 14 governorates cast their votes in the first phase of the parliamentary elections on Sunday and Monday. The cabinet’s control room, which was formed to observe the electoral process, said that during the second day they received 15 complaints and found 31 violations. The main violations include the arrest of two men who attempted to vote with IDs that did not belong to them, MENA reported.
Next week’s parliamentary elections are supposed to move Egypt closer to democracy and end a situation in which Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, first as the country’s strongman then as an elected president, has governed for more than two years with few apparent checks and balances. But with almost no effective opposition expected to run or make a mark, critics and analysts say the 596-seat legislature will be little more than a rubber stamp, leaving the former military chief free to power ahead with a high-octane, one-man campaign to revive the economy and influence the region while curbing opposition at home. The staggered vote, starting next week and continuing through December, will give Egypt its first elected legislature in more than three years. The resulting chamber will also signal the completion of the third and final stage of a political road map announced by el-Sissi himself when, as military chief, he led the July 2013 ouster of the nation’s first freely elected president, the Islamist Mohammed Morsi, following a wave of mass protests against Morsi’s rule.
The ACLU says an Indiana law barring voters from taking pictures of their ballot in the voting booth violates the First Amendment, but the state is countering that the legislature is trying to prevent voter fraud. A federal court heard arguments Tuesday over the law’s constitutionality. The state offered several potential problems the so-called “ballot selfie” law seeks to prevent: taking photos of one’s ballot could help facilitate buying and selling votes. Barring pictures of a ballot could also help prevent voter intimidation and coercion. Simply put, the state argues that ballot secrecy has been vital for more than a hundred years, and the “ballot selfie” statute is a natural offshoot of an existing law that bars people from showing their ballot to others.
What could be more patriotic in our narcissistic social-media age than posting a picture of yourself on Facebook with your marked ballot for president? Show off your support for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) or former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Last week, a federal court in New Hampshire struck down that state’s ban on ballot selfies as a violation of the First Amendment right of free-speech expression. That might seem like a victory for the American Way. But the judge made a huge mistake because without the ballot-selfie ban, we could see the reemergence of the buying and selling of votes — and even potential coercion from employers, union bosses and others.
A new FBI anti-corruption task force is trying to clean up the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. According to the Justice Department, in 2013, more public officials were convicted for corruption in South Texas than in any other region of the country. One of the practices the task force is looking at is vote-stealing. They’re called politiqueras — a word unique to the border that means campaign worker. It’s a time-honored tradition down in the land of grapefruit orchards and Border Patrol checkpoints. If a local candidate needs dependable votes, he or she goes to a politiquera.
It is already past midnight in Nejapa, El Salvador. Poll workers at the Jose Matías Delgado School voting center, exhausted after having arrived at 5 am, are still arguing over how to fill out the new count sheets introduced for this year’s electoral process. Scenes just like this were repeated all across El Salvador during the March 1st elections. Salvadorans took to the polls in relative calm to cast their ballot for mayors, National Legislative Assembly representatives and Central American Parliament (PARLACEN) legislators. Delayed openings, allegations of vote buying in rural areas and isolated confrontations between voters or poll staff did little to impede the active exercise of suffrage throughout the country. The process was declared broadly transparent by visiting international observation delegations, including that of the Organization of American States (OAS).
The VRK held a hearing and announced the decision on Sunday, 8 March. “Election results cannot be trusted, hence the VRK declared them invalid. We decided that a rerun election should be held on 7 June of this year. Candidates will be registered and constituency electoral committee formed anew,” the VRK Chairman Zenonas Vaigauskas told the journalists. According to him, there are no plans to ask for additional funds to organise elections. “Voters helped us save a considerable amount of money by electing 19 mayors already in the first round. Therefore we are not planning yet to ask for additional funds from the state budget,” said Vaigauskas. According to the chairman, on 7 June elections to the Seimas will most probably take place in those single-member constituencies where members of parliament were elected as mayors.