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Local election official found guilty of fraud

Meeting of the Thurgau cantonal parliament
The Thurgau cantonal parliament has 130 members. They are elected for a four-year term. © Keystone/Walter Bieri

A former local official in Switzerland has been found guilty of election fraud in parliamentary elections in canton Thurgau.

A district courtExternal link on Wednesday handed the former secretary-general of the town of Frauenfeld a suspended prison sentence of 12 months and a fine of CHF3,000 ($3,250).

The judges ruled there was sufficient evidence to prove that the 50-year-old defendant had destroyed about 100 ballot papers to give the right-wing Swiss People’s Party an additional seat.

The result was later corrected following a complaint by the local Liberal Green Party.

The defendant, who was in charge of vote counting in Frauenfeld in the 2020 elections to the cantonal parliament, has denied any wrongdoing and announced he would appeal against the verdict.

He maintained that the accusations against him were groundless while the prosecution argued the case was “a black day for democracy”.

Ballot irregularities are rare in Switzerland, where votes are held up to four times a year at a local, cantonal and national level.

Over the past few years courts have ordered a re-run of a local ballot and recounts of ballot papers. They have also handed down suspended prison sentences.

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