'Fake News' and Thousands of Stolen Ballots Ahead of Mexico's Biggest Ever Election

Thousands of stolen ballots and "fake news" have cast a shadow over Mexico's biggest ever election, set to take place on Sunday.

In the Mexican state of Tabasco, 11,025 ballots were stolen on Monday, reports note. A truck parked, blocking a highway, forcing a vehicle driving staff from the National Electoral Institute (INE) to halt. A group of armed civilians arrived on the scene and stole packets holding the ballots. In addition, more than 8,000 ballots were stolen and burned in the state of Oaxaca on Tuesday, Univision reported.

Marco Antonio Baños, an electoral councilor and the president of the INE's organization and training committee, said that more than 100 polling stations may not be open on July 1 due to social conflict.

"The number [of voting booths with problems related to their installation] has increased but it's not something that places any of the elections at risk. It's a recurring problem in every electoral process. We're talking about around 100 [booths] out of 157,000," Baños told local media.

Mexico fans celebrate at the Cuauhtemoc monument, with a billboard (TOP L) advertising presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, after Mexico's 2-1 victory over South Korea during the World Cup on June 23 in Tijuana, Mexico. Mario Tama/Getty Images

In addition to the stolen and destroyed ballots, fake news has become a growing problem in the lead up to the polls. A video recently shared on social media alleged that Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro is behind the campaign of Mexican presidential frontrunner Andrés Manuel López Obrador, The Verge reported.

In the video, a newscaster says: "With the triumph of this Latin American leader on July 1, the Bolivarian Revolution will have a first-rate ally in the continent to confront international attacks," featuring branding similar to that of a state-backed Venezuelan channel. However, as more careful observers noted, the channel's logos were incorrect and the timestamp was wrong. Nonetheless, the video has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times on social media.

Twitter bots have also become a problem, as Alberto Escorcia, who has tracked Twitter trends in the North American country since 2010 through his website Lo Que Sigue, noted.

"These networks are a tool to destabilize countries and to change elections," Escorcia told The Verge. "The rules from Twitter aren't enough [to stop bots] … An attack must line up exactly with what the rules prohibit for them to take down the account."

Fake news has become an increasing concern for governments around the world. The role of false news sources has become a central issue in the ongoing investigation into Russia's efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. elections. In the U.K., fake news was also used as a tool to influence the results of the 2016 Brexit referendum, through which British citizens voted to leave the European Union.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador presidential candidate for National Regeneration Movement Party (MORENA) / 'Juntos Haremos Historia' gestures during a conference as part of the 'Recover Your Future, A Proposal by the Youth for Mexico' event at Fronton Mexico on May 28 in Mexico City. Hector Vivas/Getty Images

Violence has also marred Mexico's historic election, seeing more than 100 politicians killed ahead of the polls. In total, some 13,000 Mexicans have been killed across the country since January.

With more than 18,000 positions up for grabs at the local and federal levels across Mexico, the polls have been hailed as the largest ever in the country's history. Corruption, security and relations with the U.S. have all taken center stage in the election. At the presidential level, former Mexico City Mayor López Obrador has come out as the frontrunner, with the latest polls showing he has the support of 51 to 54 percent of the electorate, a lead of more than 20 percent, according to Reuters.