There are only a few hours before the deadline set for 4 pm Italian on Thursday 22 September for exercising the right to vote of Italians abroad. Well, we still live in a situation of chaos and furious controversy. Our diplomatic offices are literally besieged by protests and complaints from our compatriots who complain that their right to vote has been damaged by not receiving the electoral envelope. Or receipt of an envelope made out to other subjects, incomplete documentation contained in the envelope sent for the elections.
We have been eyewitnesses to an aberration
Beyond a series of unjustifiable inefficiencies (if a law is made to involve and legitimize our compatriots abroad in active participation in the country’s fundamental political choices … then they are not mocked by not adequately equipping the organizational machine!) however, we have been eyewitnesses to a case that demonstrates how the current procedure envisaged by the law lends itself to possible illicit acts, tampering, scams.
A procedure at risk of fraud
The Director General for “Italians Abroad of Migration Policies” of the Farnesina, Luigi Maria Vignali, he wanted to reassure everyone on the regularity of the vote abroad. At the newspaper the Newspaper stated that “the electoral exercise continues in a correct and orderly manner. This year we have focused on safety. Of course, there have been episodes, some reports to the Prosecutor have already been sent, but the exchange of cards is strictly forbidden and there are important sanctions“. However, these formal reassurances did not prevent us from witnessing an episode as witnesses and from learning about a procedure maliciously prepared to implement a “swap vote” method.
We come to the first Monegasque case
Montecarlo, apartment of a family of four members, two parents and two adult children. They are of Italian nationality but resident in the Monegasque city. They received regularly, as in previous elections, on the other hand, the four envelopes (one each) with the material to exercise their right to vote such as “Italians abroad“. Everyone then had the opportunity to express his will as a voter: so far apparently no problem! The bureaucracy worked well.
Four voters… one signature
The problem arises when the two sons and his wife, absolutely disinterested in Italian political events, begged the father-husband to carry out the voting procedures himself, not so much and not only for his personal vote, but for everyone’s vote and four! Diligently, the head of the family sat down and followed the procedure for each envelope, exercising the right to vote both for himself and for the other three members of the family, obviously falsifying three signatures and expressing above all four votes which represented, in the reality, the will of only one, he, suddenly and illegally became the holder of a multiple vote!
A trick or a forgery?
To my question about the fact that no one checked the authenticity of the individual signatures, the answer was “No, there is no control. The four envelopes with the electoral material are sent to the competent office and we do not know that checks or verifications take place on who has, in reality, really expressed his right as a voter“. For obvious reasons, we will respect the expressed will of anonymity of the protagonists of this, how can we call it, crafty? Or, perhaps, more correctly, falsification of someone else’s signature with consequent violation of the rule on voting for Italians abroad?
Who does the checks?
It is true, as the General Manager Vignali says, there are important sanctions for the “scoundrels”: but who does the checks? The second episode, surprising on the one hand and disturbing on the other, relates instead to a case of “swap vote”. Here, we were not direct witnesses, but we listened to the story of the procedure that is being implemented in some colleges in our country, directly from one of the protagonists of the “crime”. Let’s go into the concrete case, using a numerical example that allows us an easier understanding of the ingenious but illicit mechanism.
Exchange vote in the light of the sun
In the seat n. X of the town Y, the box with 100 registered ballots arrives from the Ministry for voting by those entitled to that seat. Unbeknownst to everyone, one of the members of the scrutineers ‘college takes and hides a card before the official record that opens the scrutineers’ activity. The count made on the ballots received by the Ministry shows the number 99 because, as it can happen, against a formal certificate of sending 100 ballots, only 99 have arrived in that seat. No problem, it has already happened and the inconvenience it does not determine any type of nullity of the electoral procedures in that seat. The scrutineer, “thief of the ballot”, delivers, obviously outside the polling station, the blank ballot to the “manager” of the exchange vote.
How to check the … “promise kept”
The latter will be present at the entrance to the polling station and, obviously without being noticed, will deliver to the voters involved in the “market of votes” the blank ballot before entering the premises where the booths are located. The voter, with the blank ballot in his pocket, will receive his ballot from the President of the polling station and, in the secret of the booth, will fill in one of the two, according to a mechanism pre-agreed with the actors of the “exchange vote”, returning it to the President for inclusion in the urn. Obviously, the method of affixing your X sign on the form must correspond to the instructions received from the promoters of the “exchange vote”. In such a way as to be able to allow a posteriori control of the “keeping of the promise to vote”.
A bureaucracy that lends itself to manipulation
Upon leaving the polling station, the voter will hand over to the “traffic manager” the blank card so that he can replicate the same process n times. The consequence? The votes promised before the opening of the polling station must correspond to those resulting from the final ballot so that the consideration for the transfer of the exchange vote can be delivered. We are in September 2022, right in the heart of an epochal digital and behavioral revolution. And yet, as we can see in the two examples cited, it is still in the hands of a bureaucracy that lends itself too easily to the manipulations of the smartest or the criminals.