A high number of spoiled ballots in Split has prompted an investigation.
A review of spoiled ballots from Sunday’s second round of local elections is underway in Split. The investigation has been demanded by Željko Kerum, the defeated candidate, who claims that the high share of spoiled ballots (about 9.5% of all votes cast) shows that someone tampered with the ballots and prevented him from winning by intentionally spoiling ballots cast by his supporters, reports Večernji List on June 6, 2017.
So far, after a quarter of all spoiled ballots have been examined and there are reportedly about 300 suspect ballots, which is a significant number given that Kerum lost by just a little more than a thousand votes. Kerum is especially suspicious towards ballots where both candidates have been marked. His associates have recorded serial numbers of the ballots and might ask for experts’ opinion whether the marks were made by the same pencil. They suspect that someone took ballots marked for Kerum and marked the name of the other candidate on them as well so that they would be counted as spoiled ballots.
Tomislav Prljević, who oversees the review as a representative of Andro Krstulović Opara who won on Sunday, said that both candidates vote counts have been more or less equally damaged by suspect spoiled ballots. “If we look at the current dynamics, at the end perhaps Andro will have an even larger advantage over Kerum. There are fewer than 300 suspect ballots, and more than half of them are in favor of Andro. But, if Kerum wants to pay for expert analysis, he can do that,” said Prljević.
Goran Čolak, the president of the Town Election Commission, explained that the election would not be valid if it were determined that there were more than 1,089 suspect ballots since that is the difference between Opara and Kerum. “We will review spoiled ballot and see whether the complaint is justified. The elections would be repeated if there are irregularities which could affect the election results,” said Čolak, adding that it was not known when the review would be concluded.
Interestingly, according to people monitoring the review, many voters drew the cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants on ballots. There are allegedly more such ballots than votes for the outgoing Split Mayor Ivo Baldasar (in the first round, he received just 553 votes or 0.80 percent).
The high number of spoiled ballots might be explained by the fact that the second round featured two candidates who are unacceptable to many of the left-leaning voters and who therefore decided to spoil them intentionally, rather than to vote for who they consider to be the ”lesser of two evils”.