Worries about vote buying despite Mexican reforms ahead of elections

But the election fraud unit of Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office says that since the campaign officially began March 30 it has opened investigations into 542 complaints that voters were bought off or coerced to vote for a certain candidate.

PRI candidate Enrique Pena Nieto

Political reforms in Mexico have made it much harder to steal an election, officials say. But a lot of people think you can still buy one.

As voters go to the polls Sunday to elect a new president, allegations are flying that candidates are offering money and swag, flouting campaign-spending limits in the process. Most allegations are aimed at the old guard Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which polls say holds a sizeable lead after being kicked out of the top office by voters 12 years ago.

The PRI held on to Mexico’s presidency for 71 years, using vote-buying and other kinds of fraud when deemed necessary, until it was defeated in 2000 by the National Action Party, or PAN. The PRI claims to have changed, and political reforms instituted since 1988 have made Mexican elections far harder to steal.

But in the latest contest, the PAN accused the PRI candidate Enrique Pena Nieto’s campaign of acquiring about 9,500 prepaid gift cards worth nearly $5.2 million (71 million pesos) to give away for votes.


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