Madrid (EFE).- The accusations of vote buying have erupted in the middle of the 28M electoral campaign with the scandals in Melilla and Mojácar (Almería) for a practice that is a crime that can be punished with imprisonment from six months to three years.
There are two spotlights. In Melilla, at least six people have been arrested for an alleged purchase of votes. Once again, voting by mail is once again under suspicion, as it has been for years, but now with the news that the ballots are being distributed with a police escort, after the theft of several dozen of them in assaults on postmen in this city.
And in Mojácar, seven people were arrested accused of being part of a plot that allegedly tried to buy votes by mail, offering between 100 and 250 euros for each ballot in favor of the PSOE, mainly foreigners with limited resources.
Buying votes is considered an electoral crime
The electoral law establishes that selling the vote is not legal since the vote is free and secret, therefore, a gift cannot be mediated, in which case an electoral crime would be incurred.
Article 146 of said law punishes with imprisonment from six months to three years or a fine of twelve to twenty-four months those who, through rewards, gifts, remuneration or promises, directly or indirectly request the vote of any voter or induce abstention.
In the event that the author is an official, the disqualification for employment or public office of one to three years is also imposed.
There is a precedent in Melilla. In 2021, the Supreme Court confirmed the two-year prison sentences and disqualification of the then PSOE general secretary, Dionisio Muñoz, and the still president of the Coalición por Melilla (CPM), Mustafa Aberchán, for buying votes by mail in exchange for plans of employment in the 2008 Senate elections.
If it is not allowed to buy the vote, neither is the sale, so that although the perpetrator of the crime is the buyer, the seller can be considered an accomplice or necessary cooperator of the crime, beyond the fact that they can be charged with other types of crimes such as part of a larger plot (money laundering, criminal organization).
The Electoral Board decides the electoral consequences
Separate mention is what consequences it has on the elections. According to Legálitas, there is a general principle that is the maintenance of the legal business that also informs administrative law, that is, the null part does not annul the valid part.
In this regard, it states that in reference to the invalidity of the entire process of voting by mail, one must be very cautious, since it is the exercise of a fundamental right.
However, the Electoral Board will have to assess the level of influence of an irregularity on the result, whether it is because those votes have been entered in the ballot box, the location of those irregular votes, whether or not they have an impact on the distribution of votes. eligible etc
Here, the representatives of the candidacies will have to address the Electoral Board and request the measures they deem appropriate.