Tonight’s electoral result, of course, strains credulity. A government with 20-24% support wins 17 of 23 elections and 54% of the overall vote. Votes that do not reflect polls happen in elections with high abstention. But this vote had 61% turnout. Indeed, for this result to be correct, the same pollsters that accurately predicted turnout, completely missed voter intention. Hard to believe.
Fortunately, Venezuela’s voting system has an solid system of audits and checks. Fantasies of secret tabulation rooms that alter the vote can be set aside. Each voter who votes, gets a paper receipt saying who she voted for, and then deposits it in a box. After the elections, the citizens who are working at the tables, representing all parties, count the ballots. Then they check their tabulation with the act that is printed out from the machine. They sign off on it and the parties’ witnesses get a copy of it. These acts can then be compared to the electoral tallies presented by the National Electoral Council (CNE) on their web page, and any fraud can be detected.
But for this system of checks to work, everyone has to do their job. The CNE has to publish its data broken down to the level of the electoral table. So far on its web page it has it broken down to the electoral center, but not the electoral table. It says these results are still being tabulated. If the CNE does not make these results available, it will be clear evidence that they have tampered with the vote–like they did with the July 30 vote for the National Constituent Assembly.
The opposition needs to make known first, if they actually have copies of the acts and what they say. If they do not have them, they need to explain why. If their acts corroborate what the CNE says, they need to say so, instead of immediately calling for audits. If they have clear evidence of voter suppression, assisted voting or duplicate voting, they need to present that before calling for audits.
If they have none of that, they need to come forward with an analysis of how the CNE’s refusal to replace candidates on the ballot and the last minute polling station switches affected the vote. This is not the time to raise a cloud of doubt with vague claims. In their declarations tonight they did little to reveal what they knew, but their somber expressions and vague statements suggest they might not have the hard data to challenge the CNE’s result.
Both the CNE and the MUD have the ability to significantly clarify what happened and they should do so as soon as possible.