Even though the Swedish election day isn’t until Sept. 14, voters are given the option to pre-vote as early as Aug. 27. An estimated 881 000 voters exercised this right as of this writing, but there are troubling reports of attempted election fraud now showing up.
In the Swedish election system, each party has three separate voting cards for municipal, county and national votes. These in turn have a list of candidates within that party, where you check the box for the candidate of your choice. It is the responsibility of the election officials to ascertain that each voting location have voting cards from all parties available at all times. Attempts to steal, manipulate or otherwise tamper with the voting cards is a crime punishable by up to 6 months in prison.
Sounds pretty reassuring, albeit clunky since you need to bring in cards for every single party to the voting booth so as not to show anyone which voting cards you’re placing in the envelope (the other cards are then discarded on your way out). Any kind of marking on the cards, including folds, result in immediate disqualification of that vote.
Most parties also mail their respective voting cards to households along with their information trying to convince the constituents to vote for their parties and often specific front-runner candidates.
This is where things start getting concerning. For starters, a number of mailmen have officially protested delivering the information and voting cards from Sverigedemokraterna (SD), the third largest party in the country, because they do not agree with the politics of the party. This blatant disregard for the mailman job duty is especially engraving in light of the recent news reports of tampered election mail.
There are several reports from Stockholm, Gothenburg, Laholm and Halmstad where the envelopes from SD have clearly been opened and resealed. The content has been removed or in some cases replaced with voting cards from other parties (!). It seems unlikely that the SD election workers would suddenly start stuffing their envelopes with voting cards for marginal party Folkpartiet (FP), an outspoken opponent to SDs policies.
Other irregularities against SD includes stolen voting cards at the pre-voting locations, and in one case a more advanced scheme: Someone had switched SD municipality voting cards with those of a neighboring municipality, making it very easy to cast an invalid vote.
As if that wasn’t enough, there’s the risk of tampering by the election administrators themselves. In the May election for the EU-parliament, a noted case involved a vote counter openly debating whether to simply throw away the stack of SD votes on Facebook.
“…We who counted the votes were asking ourselves if we shouldn’t just throw all the SD-votes in the trash can,” the 21-year old wrote.
To even talk about such blatant breach of trust is akin to a police officer openly pondering whether to plant drugs on a neighbor he didn’t like, just to get an excuse to lock him up. Amazingly, the election office review board found no reason for concern and concluded that the person had their “continued trust”.
The official election day is still a week away. We will have to keep a close watch on how the democratic foundation of Sweden survives it.