On election night I pointed out that the Venezuela’s electoral platform provides some straight-forward mechanisms through which disputes about the vote count can be resolved. This system depends on the National Electoral Council publishing its numbers down to the level of the electoral table. They did so yesterday afternoon and that gives holders of acts (the summary documents from each electoral table’s vote which in theory should be signed-off on by witnesses from all sides) the ability to cross-check the CNE’s data.
The burden is now on the MUD to do its job. In yesterday’s press conference, candidate for governor of the state of Miranda, Carlos Ocaríz repeatedly said “it is not a question of acts,” revealing they were not contesting the tabulation or transmission of the votes. Instead he described a series of complaints regarding everything from losing cell phone communications with witnesses, to the lack of candidate substitution, to confusion among those whose polling stations were moved.
Losing MUD candidates need to quickly survey the complaints and decide if they can account for what in many cases is a significant difference in the vote. For example, if one looks at the numbers in Miranda, Hector Rodríguez received approximately 86,000 more votes than Ocaríz, or approximately 7% of the total vote. If all of the null votes and votes for candidates other than Rodríguez and Ocaríz are added together it amounts to a maximum of 16,000 votes that could in theory be attributed to confusion, leaving 70,000 to be accounted for. Could the number of voters whose polls were moved in opposition districts account for this gap? Probably not, but these are they type of questions the opposition needs to answer. The indispensable EfectoCocuyo.com has an article revealing the various ways the opposition could contest the election.
But it should not take long for them to produce a reasonable estimate that can determine if it is possible that the CNE’s collage of abuses were determinative. If not, they should recognize the result as Henri Falcón has in Lara. That will not prevent more painstaking documentation of what is clearly an unfair electoral system that has lost its fidelity to popular sentiment.
If it turns out that the election was actually decided by the opposition’s failure to convince its base to turn out, or their lack of message and concrete proposals, that should lead to a round of reflection and reformulation. Stringing-along with ambiguous, unconvincing claims of fraud will generate disillusionment among average citizens and ambivalence within the international community.