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Misleading claims about 'rigged' postal votes appear before Italian elections

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By Matthew Holroyd
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Misleading rumours have been spread by uItalian users on Facebook.
Misleading rumours have been spread by uItalian users on Facebook.   -   Copyright  Euronews via Facebook

Misleading claims about "voter rigging" are being shared online ahead of Italy's general election on Sunday.

Viral videos have falsely suggested that postal votes abroad will be rigged to favour certain political parties.

In one clip on Facebook, a man claims that two populist parties have been illegally excluded from the ballot. Euronews has fact-checked the claims.

In the video, the user claims that voting slips and ballot papers have been sent to his address in Lugano, Switzerland, by the local Italian consulate.

He opens the envelope and shows the list of parties on the ballot papers, claiming that candidates from Torniamo alla Costituzione, Italexit and Vita have been removed. All three populist parties are known for their eurosceptic views and have previously shared debunked conspiracy theories.

But according to Italy's Consulate General, the three parties did not register enough signatures to run candidates for postal votes.

In Italy postal votes are allowed for citizens who are living abroad or who are out of the country for at least three months for work, study or medical reasons.

Under Italy's electoral rules for overseas voters, parties must register between 500 and 1,000 signatures in each of the regions to be listed on the ballot paper for that region. The number of signatures falls to 250 in the event of a snap election, as is the case in 2022.

One of the populist parties, Vita, has confirmed on Facebook that they did not secure the necessary signatories to run for overseas votes. Therefore, their absence from the ballot paper in Lugano is not evidence of "vote rigging".

The man also claims in the video that an advertising leaflet for the candidates of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) was included in the sealed envelope.

But the footage shows that the man's letter had already been opened before he started filming, compromising the reliability of his claims. Journalists with Euronews' Italian service in Lyon say they received a leaflet from the Democratic party in a separate envelope to their voting slip.

Luciano Vecchi, a PD official, has stated that the accusations were "clearly unfounded" and says that the video had been “manipulated”.

Euronews has contacted the Italian election commission for a statement on the video allegations.

False claims about voter fraud have previously been shared online before general elections in France, Germany, and the Netherlands.