Voter Confusion Caused by Electoral Center Changes: Testimony from a Table Witness

It seems clear now that the government victory in Sunday’s gubernatorial elections was not the result of vote counting fraud, but the cumulative impact of government dirty tricks, and opposition abstention. I think Francisco Toro gets it right here.

The following is the testimony of an opposition activist. She worked in the government up until about five years ago and since then has been a government opponent, active in community-level opposition politics. She provided me with a testimony of what she called “just one of the obstacles we confronted in these elections.” It provides an example of the local effects of the National Electoral Council’s (CNE) relocation of 715,000 voters just days before the elections.

I was a witness in San Luis Elementary School. We were supposed to get our credentials on Friday when electoral tables were installed. But when we arrived at 6 am on Friday, we had two surprises. First, without explanation, two of the twelve electoral tables had been eliminated. Ten were left. My credentials were not there, because of the reduction in tables. Second, they had taken everything to Madison Elementary School. In other words, two days before the election they had reduced the number of tables and moved the ones remaining to another location. 

That is when the confusion began. The CNE was not providing information. Until Thursday San Luis ES voters who looked at the CNE webpage, would see that they voted at San Luis ES. But on Friday it said that they were to vote at the Chuao Chamber of Commerce. But logic told us they would vote at Madison ES, where all of the materials had been taken. The tables were installed at Madison ES but since we could not see the voter lists, nobody knew for sure where the San Luis ES voters were going to vote. 

It was not until Sunday itself that we could be sure because we could see the lists. In effect, the San Luis ES voters were to vote at Madison ES. But the CNE webpage still said Chuao Chamber of Commerce. You can imagine the confusion. Only looking at the lists posted at the voting center could you actually find where you voted. 

The same thing happened in the Alfaro Zamora Elementary School in El Cafetal with the difference that they first moved their voters to San Luis ES which everyone knew was being moved. They ended up voting in América Preschool, yet the CNE webpage ended up saying that they too voted in the Chuao Chamber of Commerce, which was wrong.

I worked all day giving people information and helping to transport those we could with a bus. Many tired of trying to figure it out and just went home. Some, especially senior citizens, did not want to go out on their own to a different electoral center, and also just went home.