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Mexico: Senate Passes New Electoral Offenses Law

(May 22, 2014) With 103 votes in favor and 2 abstentions, the Mexican Senate passed the draft new General Law on Matters of Electoral Crimes (Ley General en Materia de Delitos Electorales). The draft law provides penalties of up to 22 years in prison for certain crimes, and if passed it would be applied for the first time in the elections of 2015. The bill was approved at a session that lasted nearly 11 hours; once approved, it was sent to the Chamber of Deputies to continue in the legislative process. (Senado Aprueba Nueva Ley de Delitos Electorales, EL FINANCIERO (Apr. 30, 2014).)

The draft law imposes a minimum of six months’ imprisonment on those who vote knowing that they do not meet the legal requirements to vote and on those who vote more than once in the same election. Penalties of from six months to three years of imprisonment would be imposed on persons who request votes in exchange for money, the promise of money, or other reward. (Id.)

Under the bill, up to seven years of imprisonment would be imposed on anyone who alters the padrón electoral (the database containing the list of all the citizens who are registered to obtain a voter card), or the listado nominal (the electoral roll) or who is involved in the illegal issuance of voter identity cards. (Id.)

The most severe penalty included in the legislation is applicable to persons who make campaign contributions with resources of illicit origin or in amounts greater than those permitted for pre-candidates, candidates, political parties, coalitions, or political groupings. For these actions, the offender will be punished with a penalty of 5 to 15 years in prison, which could be increased by 50% if the contribution was made at the time of an electoral pre-campaign or campaign. (Muricio Torres, El Senado Apruebala Nueva Ley sobre Delitos Electorales, CNN MEXICO (Apr. 30, 2014).)

In all cases, the government attorney (Ministerio Público) will initiatie sua sponte the investigation of the offenses under this statute. (Senado Aprueba Nueva Ley de Delitos Electorales, supra.)