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Opinion and Analysis: Politics

Report from the Mercosur Electoral Accompaniment Program Delegation

The National Electoral Council invited a Delegation of MERCOSUR to participate in the International Electoral Accompaniment Program for the 2013 Presidential Elections in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

The Delegation was made up of 6 members. The head of the Mission was the General Representative of the MERCOSUR who actively participated in the oversight of the voting areas. The members arrived in Caracas between the 10th and 12th of April and formed part of more than 150 international observers invited by the National Electoral Council. Among the participants were a mission of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and a delegation of the Carter Center.

All guarantees were provided so that Sunday’s elections were a success. The people of Venezuela massively turned out to vote in order to exercise their right to do so with full liberty, considering that in Venezuela voting is not obligatory. The eighteen million, eight hundred and two thousand forty three Venezuelans were called to vote in the presidential elections this 14th of April having full liberty and ease to do so, considering that transportation was free that day.

The following points were emphasized:

  1. THE CAMPAIGN. It was affirmed that there was ample liberty for all candidates as evidenced by the different television programs, written press and social networks that clearly reflected liberty of thought and expression.

The Delegation had the opportunity of meeting with the Campaign Headquarters of candidate Nicolas Maduro Moros and Henrique Capriles Radonski.

Additionally, it is worthwhile pointing out that the closing celebrations of both candidates witnessed great concentrations of sympathizers. These occurred with normality.

  1. INFORMATION: The observers received information relative to the Venezuelan Constitution and the electoral legislation in a free and transparent form. At every point information was provided when it was requested or required, which confirmed the transparency and security of the Venezuelan electoral system.
  2. ELECTRONIC SYSTEM: The delegation received an orientation and explanation of the electronic system of voting. It was emphasized that the security of the elections was based on means of open verification, which permitted the ability to verify the results, offering a sense of tranquility among the people.

The voter identifies him or herself via an identification card shown to the president of the table and later places his or her finger in an optical scanner. Upon confirming one’s identity located in front of the voting machine, the president of the table activates the button to unlock the machine so that the voter could begin the voting process.

The Integrated Authentication System includes the voter’s biometric identification by way of the finger print and in accord with the electoral board. The finger print detector permits the realization of the principal “one voter, one vote”.

It is also important to emphasize that the whole electoral system consists of 17 audits, including software, data, fingerprints, the production of voting machines etc. When the voter verifies his paper vote, a comparison is made between the vote with what is stored in the voting machine. Afterwards, when the paper votes are verified against the report of the vote count, a verification is made that covers 54% of the voting tables. This method involves many audit processes, which makes it one of the most rigorous systems of voting on a world level.

The stipulated time for a vote is 3 minutes with an extension of an additional 3 minutes. However, the act of voting does not take more than 90 seconds in general. Also it is good to bear in mind that the table can handle up to five voters simultaneously owing to the different stations in the semi-circle of tables. This results in a dynamic process.

The Delegation had the opportunity to visit the National Center for the Preparation and Distribution of Voting Machines of the National Electoral Council in the industrial zone of Mariches. On that occasion, it was observed in detail that the process of preparation of the machines to be utilized with quality control that is audited not only by technicians of the Council, but also by technicians designated by the political parties. 

The visit helped to confirm the inviolability of the system.

Translated by Michael Hoffman