Venezuela: Mock elections carried out without hang-ups
“All of our reports indicate that the test worked perfectly. All of the factors involved were present, we were able to verify the presence of all the poll workers at the stipulated time, and the opening of the voting centers at 8am without any problem. The trial run was intended to verify the correct articulation of the high-tech voting machines used in Venezuela, the identification process at the polls, and the waiting times of each voter."
- Socorro Hernandez, CNE official
Friday, August 10, 2012 - In a process that was marked by efficiency, professionalism and complete normalcy, Venezuela’s National Electoral Commission (CNE) successfully completed its first rehearsal of October’s presidential elections last Sunday.
The mock elections were held in 55 voting centers around the nation and were esteemed by electoral official Socorro Hernandez as having “worked perfectly, just as expected. All of our reports indicate that the test worked perfectly."
"All of the factors involved were present, we were able to verify the presence of all the poll workers at the stipulated time, and the opening of the voting centers at 8am without any problem”, Hernandez said. The trial run was intended to verify the correct articulation of the high-tech voting machines used in Venezuela, the identification process at the polls, and the waiting times of each voter.
Instead of using the registered political parties for the ballot, the CNE chose to present a sports theme, replacing presidential candidates and organizations with 25 different Olympic events.
This follows a tradition of using neutral entities such as baseball teams in trials as to maintain a non-partisan character and protect the intentionality of participating voters.
More than 30,000 operatives of Venezuela’s electoral security contingent, Plan Republic, were also on hand, accompanying over 1200 officials from the nation’s Attorney General’s Office in order to guarantee the legality and peaceful carrying out of the test.
New Security Initiative
This year, the electoral authority is incorporating a new anti-fraud Integrated Authentication System (SAI) that will entail corroborating the thumb print of each voter with a national database to ensure the singularity of each ballot.
The measure has added an additional step, and in some cases two, to the voting process, creating a greater need for trial runs to ensure the orderly execution of logistics on election day.
On Sunday, CNE officials reported that, despite the additional security step, the average elapsed time for participants to pass through the different stages of the ballot casting process was about 1 minute.
“Voting was very easy because there are people to orient you and the logistics were very good”, said Richard Aguada, a 27-year old participant in thetrial from Caracas.
Marcos Sanchez, 68, also expressed his contentment with the process and easy-to-use nature of the voting machines. “The new system isn’t complicated. Actually, it demonstrates the technological development of the country”, the volunteer said.
The celerity of the test for voters is a good sign for election officials but is, at least partly due to the smaller turnout of residents for the exercise.
“This was a small scale pilot where only 226,293 registered voters could participate at the 55 active polling places. Everything indicates, however, that the normal number of volunteer voters turned out for this type of test”, Hernandez said.
The CNE official informed that while Sunday’s exercise was a smaller version of October’s contest, another mock election will take place on August 26 and will include all of the 2,000 voting centers established around the country set up to accommodate the country’s entire electorate.
Opposition candidate breaks electoral rules
AFP - The National Electoral Council (CNE) was forced to act this week in an ongoing battle to make sure that candidates adhere to the electoral laws that set the norms of fair play in their campaigns for the upcoming presidential elections in October.
At the center of the struggle lies a baseball cap, which is frequently adorned by opposition candidate Henry Capriles Radonski when on campaign events. The baseball cap is styled in the colors of the national flag: red, yellow and blue with 8 stars. The CNE has made it overtly clear on numerous occasions that the use of patriotic symbols by either candidate, which includes the flag and its colors, is prohibited in electoral campaigns.
Capriles Radonski's illegal campaign baseball cap
Capriles responded defiantly to the CNE this week, by stating that he would continue to use the hat despite the possibility of a fine of up to 630,000 bolivars ($146,500). The CNE this week gave him his “second and final warning”.
The baseball cap adorned by Capriles has become a symbol far beyond its worth, and has even been had a song dedicated to it by Colombian pop singer Anice to Molina entitled “I won’t lose my cap”. A similar cap is now being raffled off by the opposition campaign to make money from its “newfound status as a fashion symbol”.
Capriles’ defiance over his unwillingness to abide by the rules on such a small matter has raised fears yet again over the intentions of the opposition alliance to recognize the results of the October 7th elections.
This past week, CNE President Tibisay Lucena reminded candidates that the CNE has been “observing the campaigns with concern” and stated that “both campaigns have had in the last weeks, especially the last week, publicity materials which have been in violation of the law”. In the majority of these cases, she went on to say, these pieces have been correctly “withdrawn”.
Speaking to both candidates, she reminded them that each campaign can only use, by law, up to three minutes per day of publicity on any particular TV channel. She also reminded candidates that the use of children or adolescents in campaign publicity is prohibited. This week administrative proceedings were also opened against 2 TV stations and 2 national newspapers for continued violations of this law.
Ramon Aveledo, spokesman for the opposition alliance, announced that Capriles would continue to use patriotic symbols when attending campaign events, and called the need to adhere to campaigning norms as “absurd”.
While on campaign in the industrial central city of Valencia, President Chavez called for respect for the CNE. “If the arbitrator says: Mr. Chavez, that blue jacket isn’t within the rules, I could protest, but I’d take off the jacket”.
He went to declare, “This spoiled attitude of challenging the arbitrator, which amounts to challenging the Constitution and the laws, unmasks even more so the dangerous character of the opposition candidate”.
Source: Correo del Orinoco