Argentina’s electoral authorities have opened a preliminary investigation and called a legal representative from Javier Milei’s La Libertad Avanza coalition to testify after the libertarian presidential frontrunner made unfounded claims that there may have been electoral fraud in the August primaries during a television interview on Thursday.
Milei’s comments casting suspicion on the electoral process ahead of Sunday’s vote are reminiscent of the claims made by Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro before and after they lost their presidential reelections in the US and Brazil, respectively.
In an interview with Crónica TV, Milei claimed that there had been “gross irregularities” in the August 13 primaries and said that LLA was incorporating 3,000 new poll observers per day because they were worried about possible fraud in Sunday’s general elections.
In Argentina, every party posts volunteers known as “observers” at each of the country’s 104,000 polling stations to monitor the elections.
Milei claimed that ballots had been stolen and that he had received no votes in some polling stations, which he said was “statistically impossible.” However, he did not provide evidence to support his accusations. The National Electoral Chamber stated that there were no reports of fraud or manipulation when it published the official tally of the primaries.
Milei was the most-voted candidate in the primaries, with 29.8% of the ballot.
The National Electoral Justice launched a preliminary investigation following Milei’s comments. Federal electoral prosecutor Ramiro González summoned LLA’s legal representative Santiago Viola to testify in court on Friday. Viola echoed Milei’s claims about “irregularities” and said that forged LLA ballots were circulating.
Viola also said that he would provide evidence of tally sheets with numbers that differed from those recorded by observers in three polling stations in Moreno. However, even if those differences were substantiated, the effect on the results would be negligible.
Fernando Cerimedo, LLA’s technical representative, told the Herald that the electoral authorities had not answered requests for information about how aspects of the elections’ electronic transmission system work. However, he acknowledged that his concerns pertained to the provisional tally, which is not binding, rather than the final count, which is done several days later.
Argentina’s National Electoral Directorate has already made the source code for its systems available to the parties competing.
After Viola testified, prosecutor González sent a letter to the Electoral Command and the Argentine Post Office asking them to “strengthen control” of documentation and pay “special attention” to ballot boxes.
González also sent a letter to the National Electoral Chamber asking it to report whether it was aware of the existence of any judicial proceedings related to the recent printing and distribution of unofficial LLA ballots.
Updated October 21