Guidelines to Regulate the Procedures of Referenda Recalling the Mandates of Elected Officials

By National Electoral Council (CNE)
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BOLIVARIAN REPUBLIC OF VENEZUELA
NATIONAL ELECTORAL COUNCIL

RESOLUTION N 030925-465
Caracas, 25 of September of 2003
193 and 144

The National Electoral Council, in accordance with Article 72 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and in exercise of the authority conferred on it by Numeral 5 of Article 293 and the Eight Transitory Disposition, eiusdem, and in agreement with numeral 1 of article 33 of the Statutory Law of the Electoral Power,

Dictates the following:

GUIDELINES TO REGULATE THE PROCEDURES OF REFERENDA RECALLING THE MANDATES OF POPULARLY ELECTED OFFICIALS

TITLE I
General dispositions

ARTICLE 1. The present Resolution intends to regulate the organization, administration, direction and monitoring of all acts relating to the procedure of referenda recalling the mandates of popularly elected officials, in accordance with the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

ARTICLE 2. The procedures of those referenda subject to the present guidelines will be governed by the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, by the Statutory law of the Electoral Power and by the Statutory law of Suffrage and Political Participation and other Laws as applicable. Also, they will be governed by specific Resolutions as decided by the National Electoral Council.

ARTICLE 3. The present guidelines intend:

1. To guarantee the right of voters to petition for a recall referendum on the mandate of popularly elected officials.

2. To guarantee that the procedures of recall referenda of officials’ mandates are made under conditions of equality and without discrimination.

3. To guarantee the impartiality, transparency, speed, trustworthiness and opportunity of acts relating to the procedure of recall referenda.

4. To guarantee respect of the will of the voter, as well as the rights of the popularly elected governmental official subject to a recall referendum.

5. To guarantee respect of the will of the voters as expressed through the exercise of voting.

ARTICLE 4. The procedure of recall referenda will be subject to the principles of citizen participation, transparency, impartiality, speed, trustworthiness, efficiency, equality and publicity of the acts.

The enumeration of the previous principles is only for declarative purposes, and does not exlude other principles established in the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and other Laws of the Republic.

ARTICLE 5. With the intention fulfilling these guidelines, public institutions, as well as private institutions and natural or legal persons, and by virtue of the principle of collaboration, will be obligated to provide and facilitate any information as required by the National Electoral Council as established in Article 5 of the Statutory Law of Electoral Power

TITLE II
Electoral Administration

Chapter I
The National Elecotral Coucil The National Electoral Council

ARTICLE 6. The National Electoral Council will organize, administer, supervise and monitor all the acts relative to the process of recall referenda on the mandates of elected officials.

ARTICLE 7. The following are exclusive attributions of the National Electoral Council:

1. To register the political organizations that will participate in recall referenda.

2. To elaborate the instruments of signature collection for petitions requesting recall referenda of positions of popular election.

3. To verify the fulfillment of the requirements of the requests for such referenda and, in such case, to convoke the corresponding popular referendum.

4. To verify the credentials of witnesses who participate in the recall referenda on the mandates of popularly elected officials.

5. To accredit national and international observers for recall referenda procedures on the mandates of popularly elected officials.

6. To count and verify the votes that correspond to recall referenda on the mandates of popularly elected officials, with the national voters registry.

7. To know and to decide the remedies for acts emanated by the National Electoral Board, as well as of by subordinate institutions of the National Electoral Board, following the procedures established in the Statutory law of Suffrage and Political Participation, per Titles VIII and IX.

8. All others as established in the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the law.

Chapter II
The The National Electoral Board and other subordinate institutions

ARTICLE 8. The National Electoral Board is a subordinate body of the National Electoral Council, and will exercise the duties set forth in the Statutory law of the Electoral Power, as well as those assigned by the National Electoral Council.

ARTICLE 9. The electoral institutions subordinate to the National Electoral Board are: the regional electoral boards, the municipal electoral boards, the electoral executive boards, and, when they are created, the metropolitan and parish electoral boards.

ARTICLE 10. The electoral institutions subordinate to the National Electoral Board will consist of, at least, five (5) main members and (1) secretary, each with a respective substitute. The members, the secretary and the substitutes, will be selected by means of public drawing, by voters and the National Board, the day and hour that the National Electoral Council determines for such purpose, according to the established guidelines.

ARTICLE 11. The functions of members of subordinate electoral boards as indicated in Article 9 of the present guidelines, will be temporary and will be finalized once the responsibilities are determined by the National Electoral Board, in accordance the Statutory law of the Electoral Power

ARTICLE 12. The National Electoral Council, by means of resolution and with at least two (2) months of anticipation before the date of a recall referendum, will determine the number of members on the subordinate electoral boards as mentioned in Article 10 of the present guidelines.

TITLE III
TtTT The procedure of recall referendum

Chapter I
TT Petition for the initiation of the procedure

ARTICLE 13. Once the midway period of a popularly elected official’s term is reached, voters will be able to petition for a recall referendum of the official’s remaining mandate by a vote of no less than twenty percent (20%) of registered voters, in accordance with Article 72 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

ARTICLE 14. As of the moment at which the midway point of an elected official’s term is reached, organizations with political aims or citizens’ groups or citizens properly registered in the National Electoral Council, can petition in writing to this Council or the corresponding Regional Electoral Office for a recall referendum on the official’s mandate, according to the dispositions established in the present Resolution and in Article 66, numeral 1 of the Statutory law of the Electoral Power.

ARTICLE 15. If the petition is presented/displayed before a Regional Electoral Office, the Office will have to forward it to the National Electoral Council the same day or the following business day. The refusal of a civil employee to receive the petition or to delay its processing, will be considered a serious offense.

ARTICLE 16. A petition per Article 14, will have to contain:

1. Name, last name and position of the popularly elected official to be subjected to a recall referendum, as well the date the official took office.

2. Name, last name, identity card number, date of birth, name of the organization or of voter registration, address and company/signature, or, digital fingerprints of the petitioning citizens.

3. Objective of the petition.

4. The number of places and distribution sites where each federal district will collect signatures in petition of the recall referendum.

Chapter II
Recei Receipt of the Petition for Initiation of the Procedure

ARTICLE 17. The civil employee receiving the petition will have to state immediately whether the petition fulfills the requirements anticipated in Article 16 of the present guidelines. If the If the petition lacks any one of the demanded requirements, the civil employee will have to communicate the observed omissions to the petitioner in order to correct them. AsAs such, the civil employee will have to certify the conformity or errors of the petition at once.

ARTICLE 18. When the petition fulfills the requirements as demanded in Article 16 of the present guidelines, the civil employee receiving the petition will give a receipt to the petitioners, which copy will be annexed to the respective file. IF If The receipt will verify the data of the petitions so the National Electoral Council can determine its conformity with the procedures established in the following Chapter of the present guidelines.

Chapter III
The The The Collection of Signatures

ARTICLE 19. Once the requirements established in the previous Chapter have been fulfilled and verified, the National Electoral Council will have two consecutive days to announce the acceptance of the petition and commencement of the procedure.

The National Electoral Council, in order to guarantee the exercise of rights and to prevent Constitutional fraud, will deny the admission of those petitions, either individually or simultaneously introduced with others, formulated by organizations with political aims or citizen groups that boast the identification of the official susceptible to a recall.

In the case of a presentation of two or more petitions, the organization with political aims or citizen group, who presented the first petition to the National Electoral Council, will be considered representative of the others, unless they oppose one another.

ARTICLE 20. Once the petition is admitted, the National Council will have twenty (20) consecutive days to select the citizens who will be observers of the collection of signatures. Two observers and their respective substitutes will be elected for each location of collection.

ARTICLE 21. The National Electoral Council, during the dates established for the collection of signatures, will give the petitioners the sufficient number of lists, properly numbered and recorded, to carry out the collection of signatures, as of six o’clock in the morning on the first day in the established collection sites. When, by any circumstance attributable to the National Electoral Council, the lists have not been given on the date and stated time, the same amount of time delayed will be extended.

Each list will allow the collection of ten signatures.

ARTICLE 22. The lists constitute the petition for a recall referendum and will have to contain:

1. Name, last name and position occupied by the elected official whose mandate is in question, as well as indicate the commencement date of the official’s term.

2. Name, last name, identity card number, date of birth, name of organization or voter registry, original signature by hand and digital fingerprint, of each petitioner of the recall referendum, in legible form.

The petition for a referendum is a very personal act, which is why authorizations to sign on behalf of another voter will not be permitted.

ARTICLE 23. In the preparatory phase for the collection of signatures, the petitioners will give the National Electoral Council a list of the places and dates in which they plan to collect signatures. The National Electoral Council will subsequently establish the conditions of security and logistics.

Without prejudice to the proposed collection method, the number of places that the petitioners aspire to establish as sites of signature collection cannot exceed two thousand seven hundred.

The collection of signatures will have to occur with a time period of four consecutive days only in the places indicated by the petitions and with the observation of the National Electoral Council.

EacEach voter who signs the petition will be informed of the list and scroll number signed in order to guarantee the right to notice.

ARTICLE 24. At the closing of each day of signature collection, an original act and three copies will be recorded that will expressly mention the place and date the collection began and closed, the number of lists and its serial number, the number of signatures gathered that day and the legible data of the observers and the petitioner’s agents of collection. The lists that are signed outside the collection centers will be reflected in the act of the following day.

The observers and agents of collection for the petitioners have the obligation to sign the original act and copies. Once the acts are signed, the original will be sent to the National Electoral Council; the copies will be distributed in the following form: one one copy will be for the collection agent; the second and third copy will be given to each one of the observers.

Without exception, the lists of signature collection will be in the possession and under the safekeeping of the collection agents, who will be obligated to turn over all unused lists to the National Electoral Council.

In case that on the day of the collection the observers and their substitutes from the National Electoral Council are not present, the collection agents will ask for a corresponding replacement without prejudice, so that the act can begin with the signature of three witnesses present during the collection of signatures.

ARTICLE 25. The observers from the National Electoral Council will limit their participation to being present at the collection of signatures in the places determined and will elaborate the act as mentioned in the previous article with all relevant observations.

ARTICLE 26. The acts will be distributed by the observers from the National Electoral Council in the following form:

1. At the closing of every day of signature collection, the original acts corresponding to the places located in the Metropolitan District of Caracas, will be given by the observers to the Department of Correspondence of the main headquarters of the National Electoral Council.

2. At the closing of every day of signature collection, the original acts corresponding to the places of collection in the municipalities near the State Capitals, will be given by the observers to the Regional Electoral Offices of the respective organization, with receipt requested.

3. In those cases in which the collection places are located in distant municipalities of the State Capitals, the observers will transfer the signatures received by the last day of collection to the Regional Electoral Office of the respective organization and will turn over the acts with receipt requested.

Chapter IV
The verification of the requirements

ARTICLE 27. Organizations with political aims or the citizen groups that promoted the initiative will turn over the signed lists to the National Electoral Council, which once received will issue a corresponding receipt and will add them to the administrative file properly recorded and will initiate the verification of the requirements set forth in Article 72 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

ARTICLE 28. In a period no more than thirty consecutive days counted from the presentation of the lists, the National Electoral Council will verify the data of the voters contained in the petition, according to the following procedure:

1. Data corresponding to identity cards, names, last names and date of birth of the applicants of the petition will be transcribed.

2. Data of the applicants will be checked with the data in the Electoral Registry, to establish their voter registration in the corresponding registry.

3. The validation process will evaluate the amount and percentage of validated, accepted applicants and those rejected.

4. Once all data has been transcribed, the signatures and data contained on the lists will be verified and deemed trustworthy in accordance with the criteria established in Article 29 of the present guidelines. The review will include the total number of lists presented to the National Electoral Council.

5. If the percentage of the accepted applicants is greater or equal to the percentage of the voters set forth in Article 72 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, a report will be elaborated with the respective signatures and supporting documents, which will placed under the consideration of the Directorate of the National Electoral Council.

6. If once verified, the petition does not fulfill the percentage demanded by Article 72 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the respective report will be elaborated, properly documented, and will be placed under the consideration of the Directorate of the National Electoral Council.

7. Once the process of validation and verification of data has been initiated, additional or new requests and data will not be accepted.

ARTICLE 29. The signatures or petitions will not be considered trustworthy and consequently they will be considered invalid petitions, in any of the following circumstances:

1. If an inconsistency between the name, last name, date of birth and identity card of the signer exists.

2. If the signer is not registered in the voter registry corresponding to the referendum in question.

3. If the signature is not written by hand.

4. If the signature is a photocopy or reproduced by any other means.

5. If one determines that more than one signature comes from the same person.

ARTICLE 30. The Directorate of the National Electoral Council will either approve or reject the report presented in the following two days fulfilled after completing the verification process set forth in Article 28.

Chapter V
Notice

ARTICLE 31. The National Electoral Council will publish in at least one print publication of national circulation the results of the validation process per Numeral 3 of Article 28, utilizing the national identity card numbers of the referendum petitioners.

In the five days following publication, a voter whose signature was rejected will be able to go personally before the National Electoral Council to correct any material error which the Electoral Administration has incurred during the verification of the data. If no action is taken, the signature will remain rejected.

Also, the voter who alleges that s/he did not sign the petition, will be able to go to the National Electoral Council to ask for the immediate exclusion of his/her signature.

In both cases, the National Electoral Council will publish the format of the procedure by means of which voters will make their requests.

Chapter IV
Convocation

ARTICLE 32. Once the report referred to in Article 30 is approved, the National Electoral Council will convene the recall referendum on the official’s mandate, leaving ineffective any remaining requests in proceeding that intended the same recall referendum and rejecting any new requests.

ARTICLE 33. The convening of a recall referendum will be carried out within ninety-seven consecutive days following the approval of the report anticipated in Article 30, in accordance with the electoral chronogram established by the National Electoral Council.

ARTICLE 34. The acts referred to in the previous article will be published completely in the Electoral Gazette of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

Chapter VII
Campaign for the Realization
of Recall Referenda

ARTICLE 35. The publicity or propaganda will be regulated by the guidelines established in Title VII, Chapter III of the Statutory law of Suffrage and Political Participation, and based on the limitations of space and time established in Partial Regulation Nº 5, on Publicity and Propaganda of the Electoral Campaign, dictated by the National Electoral Council in Resolution N 000309-190, on March 9, 2000, or a subsequent rule, as soon as is applicable to the procedures of recall referenda, and will include any other relevant Resolution applied by the National Electoral Council.

ARTICLE 36. Violators of the guidelines indicated in the previous article, will be sanctioned according to the rules set forth in Title X of the Statutory law of Suffrage and Political Participation.

ARTICLE 37. The National Electoral Council will guarantee political organizations, groups of voters and citizen groups legally constituted and registered in electoral bodies, and other applicants of recall referenda, as well as the official who is the subject of the recall referendum, an equality of access to social communications media and the equitable distribution of information outlets, debate, publicity and propaganda.

ARTICLE 38. Campaigns of recall referenda will begin as of the date of the convening of the process, and will culminate forty-eight (48) hours before the date indicated for the actual vote on a recall referendum.

Chapter VIII
Participation of Organizations
in the Recall Referenda

ARTICLE 39. The National Electoral Council will guarantee the right to participation of interested parties as referred to in Article 37 of the present guidelines, with the goal of accrediting witnesses for Electoral Boards.

ARTICLE 40. The National Electoral Council, by means of Resolution, will establish the guidelines for the constitution and registry of organizations that will participate in the process of recall referenda.

Chapter IX
Referendum Ballots and Content

ARTICLE 41. The Electoral National Board will determine the form, content, dimensions and other characteristics of the referendum ballot to be used in the process of recall referenda and will submit it for consideration by the CNE.

ARTICLE 42. The National Electoral Council will elaborate the question on the recall referenda ballot in accordance with Article 72 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

Chapter X
Act of Voting

ARTICLE 43. In accordance with Article 153 and subsequent articles in the Statutory law of Suffrage and Political Participation, the act of voting, inspection of election results, counting and proclamation of the result of the recall referenda will be automated. However, in the cases in which automation cannot be implemented due to reasons of transportation, security, infrastructure services or other reason, the procedure will be carried out manually in accordance and conformity with the law. In orIn order to ensure reliability and trustworthiness, Article 175 of the Statutory law of Suffrage and Political Participation will be applied.

ARTICLE 44. The Electoral Table will be constituted at 5:30 a.m. of the day set for the recall referendum. It will be attended by the President, Principal Members and Substitutes, the Secretary and the Witnesses, along with the operator of the voting machines, and if necessary, the verification of the credentials and qualifications of these individuals will be available in the minutes from the voting.

The Electoral Table will function without interruption the day of the recall referendum. The voting act will end at 4:00 p.m., or before that hour when all the voters enrolled in that registry have voted, but will continue as necessary until all present voters have voted.

Once the act of voting has concluded, the members of the Table will continue working until they have completed all acts of revision, distribution of minutes and inspections of electoral material in order to prepare it for delivery to the officials in charge of the lists and custodians of the electoral material.

ARTICLE 45. The prescribed quorum for the installation, constitution and Electoral operation of Tables is of the simple majority of its members. DDDecisions will be taken by favorable vote of at least three (3) members.

ARTICLE 46. In case the Electoral Table cannot be constituted in accordance with Articles 43 and 44 of the present guidelines, the following procedure will be applied:

1. When the President, the Secretary or a Principal Member is present, they will be able to convene the Substitutes of that Table in order to achieve the required quorum.

2. If the constitution of the Table per the above is fruitless, the Substitute Members will be incorporated in the order of their selection until completing the required quorum.

3. In case of absolute absence of the Principal and Substitute Members and the Secretary, the President of the Table that has been constituted first will coordinate the constitution of the Electoral Table according to above numeral.

4. In the Voting Centers that only have an Electoral Table which has not been constituted, or there are several that have been unable to constitute in conformity with the above, the respective Electoral Board will take the necessary measures for its constitution by incorporating Reserve Members.

5. If by 8:00 a.m. it would be impossible to replace the absent Members by means of the previous procedure, the present witnesses, properly accredited, will be incorporated as Temporary Members

6. If the Electoral Table cannot be constituted by means of the previous procedure, those Venezuelan voters who know to read and to and are willing to act will be incorporated as Temporary Members. If by 10:00am the respective Electoral Board has not replaced the Temporary Members, they will become Principal Members.

7. After the time set forth in the previous numeral, the previously selected Members of the Electoral Table will no longer be a part of the Table.

ARTICLE 47. Once the Electoral Table is constituted, the President of the Table will announce in a clear voice that the act of voting for the recall referendum will begin. Next, in the case of a manual inspection of election results, s/he will show the voters and witnesses who are presents that the ballot box for the deposit of the tickets is empty; in the case of automated inspection of election results, the operator of the machine will show that the ballot counter is on zero and that the ballot container is empty. The formal The formalities required in this will be left in the respective minutes.

ARTICLE 48. The laminated national identity card is the only valid document enabling a voter to vote. Voters Voters must present their laminated identity card even if the date has expired.

ARTICLE 49. Handicapped voters may be accompanied to vote by a person of their confidence. Voters who do not to know how to read may request Members of the Table to read the referendum question to them.

ARTICLE 50. The act of voting is manual, and therefore, the Electoral Members of Tables will fulfill the procedures established in the manual and instructive declarations by the National Electoral Council.

ARTICLE 51. Venezuelan voters who are abroad, may exert their right to the vote in the referendum, according to the instructive guidelines set forth by the National Electoral Council.

Chapter XI
Act of Inspection of election returns

ARTICLE 52. The inspection of election returns for recall referenda could be manual or automated. Once the voting period is closed, the the President of the Table will announce aloud that the act of inspection of election returns has begun.

ARTICLE 53. The Act of Inspection of election returns is a governmental function. Free access to those interested in being present will be allowed, without more limitations than those derived from the physical circumstances and necessary security for the ordinary use of the installation. EEElectoral authorities will be responsible for fulfilling these guidelines, requesting, if necessary, the collaboration of public forces.

ARTICLE 54. The Act of Inspection of election returns will be governed by the Statutory law of Suffrage and Political Participation, as applicable, and the Manual of the Members of Electoral Tables and the instructions set forth by the National Electoral Council.

ARTICLE 55. Once the Act of Inspection of election returns is finalized, the respective Act containing the results will be elaborated in accordance with the formats and specifications determined by the Electoral National Board. The Act of Inspection of election returns will register the number of valid votes, the number of null votes, the number of referendum ballots deposited in the container and the number of voters, according to the Voting Notebook. The Act will have to be signed by all the Members of Table, the Secretary and the different present witnesses, properly accredited, who will be able to put down on the record any observation or reserves.

In the case of a lack of signatures of members of a table, it will be submitted to the criteria of validation set forth by Law and established by the National Electoral Council.

ARTICLE 56. Once the Act of Inspection of election returns has been elaborated, the Members of Electoral Tables will send the Acts to the National Electoral Council within distribution envelope Number 1. The first copy of the Act of Inspection of election returns will be sent to the corresponding Electoral Board within distribution envelope Number 2.

The second copy of the Act of Inspection of election returns will remain in the possession of the President of the Electoral Table. The present witnesses, properly accredited, will receive a respective copy of the Act of Inspection of election returns. The referred copies will have to be signed by the President and the Secretary of Table. Once all copies have been distributed, certified results properly certified by the President and the Secretary of Electoral Table can been given to interested parties.

Chapter XII
Counting of Acts of Inspection of election returns

ARTICLE 57. The National Electoral Council and the corresponding Electoral Boards, are responsible for the counting of acts of inspection of election returns of all the votes remitted in every one of the Electoral Tables from national, state, municipal, metropolitan or parochial registries. The counting and verifying of election returns acts will be completed within the two (2) days following the culmination of the Act of Inspection of election returns, unless the National Electoral Council, for technical reasons or due to the existence of a considerable number of missing acts that could affect the result, decides to prorogue the time period established here.

In case the Electoral Boards did not complete the counting in the period anticipated in this Article, the Electoral National Board will complete the counting.

ARTICLE 58. Once the counting is finalized, the National Electoral Council will proclaim the results obtained in recall referenda on the mandates of the President of the Republic, representatives to the Latin American Parliament, the Andean Parliament and Indigenous Deputies, to the National Assembly.

The Electoral Boards will proclaim the results obtained in the recall referenda for Governors of State, Mayor of the Metropolitan District, Mayors of the Municipalities, Deputies to the National Assembly, to the Legislative Councils, Councilmembers in the Metropolitan Town Hall of Caracas, members of the Municipal Councils and Members of the Parochial Meetings. Within the three (3) days following the proclamation, it will send the results to the National Electoral Council for publication in the Electoral Gazette of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

ARTICLE 59. The corresponding electoral bodies will carry out the proclamation of results once verified and in conformity with in Article 72 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

ARTICLE 60. A mandate will be considered revoked, if the number of votes in favor of the recall is equal or superior to the number of votes of the voters who chose the elected official, and is not inferior to the number of voters who voted against the recall.

Title IV
Final Guidelines

ARTICLE 61. When dealing with functionaries, the number of votes that will be considered for a recall are:

For those elected nominally, the number of votes that removed the official; for those elected by list, the number of votes from the list.

ARTICLE 62. The remedies against acts, abstentions and actions of the Electoral Administration, relative to the processes of recall referenda, will be governed by Titles VIII and IX the Statutory Law of Suffrage and Political Participation.

ARTICLE 63. The National Electoral Council will the National Assembly for additional resources required to carry out the processes of recall referenda.

ARTICLE 64. Anything not anticipated in the present guidelines, such as doubts and hesitations resulting from the application of the guidelines, will be resolved by the National Electoral Council.

ARTICLE 65. The present norms will be effective from the date of publication in the Electoral Gazette of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

Resolution approved by the Directorate of the National Electoral Council in session on September 25, 2003.

Translated by Eva Golinger-Moncada

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