Organized crime groups directly intervened in the elections in several municipalities in Michoacán in favor of Mexico’s ruling Morena party, according to opposition party leaders.
Citizens and local officials with the National Electoral Institute (INE) also reported that armed individuals turned up at some Michoacán polling stations and forced election officials and citizens to cast votes in favor of the Morena-Labor Party (PT) alliance.
Many incidents occurred in the notoriously violent and lawless Tierra Caliente region, but there were also reports of criminal interference in elections in central Michoacán, in municipalities such as Salvador Escalante and Tacámbaro, and in the state’s east.
“The link between the official party [Morena] and organized crime on election day in Michoacán is clear and alarming to us,” said Víctor Manuel Manríquez González, a leader of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), which allied itself with the National Action Party (PAN) and the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) to contest elections in Michoacán and other states.
“It’s even more serious that the president, in his morning press conference today [Monday], acknowledged and thanked organized crime for behaving well on election day,” he told a press conference in Morelia at which other PAN-PRI-PRD leaders also denounced criminal interference.
“There is evidence of threats toward voters by the powers that be,” Manríquez said.
In Múgica, a Tierra Caliente municipality, PAN-PRI-PRD representatives were forced by criminal suspects to abandon a polling station, he said.
In Turicato, another Tierra Caliente municipality, “an armed group threatened and intimidated polling station representatives,” the PRD official said. “… Armed people were [subsequently] identified filling out ballots in favor of Morena,” he added.
“… In Apatzingán, people arrived at two polling stations and stole ballot boxes,” Manríquez said.
In La Huacana, PAN-PRI-PRD representatives were threatened, he said.
According to security reports cited by the newspaper El Universal, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) forced citizens in La Huacana to vote in favor of Morena. The CJNG also clashed with the Cárteles Unidos in the hours before polling stations opened and cut off one of the entry points to the troubled municipality of Aguililla, El Universal said.
Police reports also said that armed men forced voters to cast ballots in favor of Morena and PT candidates in Gabriel Zamora, which borders La Huacana to the north.
“In San Lucas, armed men stole two ballot boxes, and there were gunshots right there. In Tacámbaro, … [there were] armed people threatening citizens and in Cojumatlán, … ballot boxes were stolen,” Manríquez said.
The PRD official also said that there was criminal interference in elections in Juárez, a municipality in eastern Michoacán, and in the Tierra Caliente municipalities of Tumbiscatío and Buenavista.
A polling station chief in Santa Clara del Cobre, the municipal seat of Salvador Escalante, was detained by a criminal group and forced to fill out ballots in favor of Morena, El Universal reported.
Francisco Javier Rincón García, an INE official in Michoacán, confirmed that there were incidents in which armed individuals coerced voters and election officials.
Teresita Herrera Maldonado, leader of the PAN in Michoacán, claimed Monday that there were more invalid votes than the number of votes that separated apparently triumphant Morena gubernatorial candidate Alfredo Ramírez Bedolla from PAN-PRI-PRD candidate Carlos Herrera Tello.
“The number of invalid votes at this time is above 55,000 while the difference between the candidates is 40,000. Other things that need to be investigated are the number of polling stations that opened late and the absence of a high percentage of polling station officials,” she said.