REPORT BY THE MEMBERS OF THE INTERNATIONAL ELECTORAL ACCOMPANIMENT PROGRAM CREDITED BEFORE THE CNE
Hailing from different countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, the United States, Europe and Russia, the members of the International Electoral Accompaniment Program for the Regional Elections of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela for the 2017-2021 period, hereby express that:
1) The National Electoral Council (CNE), in keeping with the mandate issued by the National Constituent Assembly (ANC), rescheduled the regional elections originally foreseen for December 10 to October 15, complying with the activities and electoral schedule established by the law.
2) TheNational Electoral Councilguaranteed, fully and absolutely, the compliance with all constitutional, legal, organizational and technical aspects, thus ensuring the process’ transparency and reliability,as well as the broad participation of political forces and of the Venezuelan people.
3) The electoral processwas open for the participation of all political forces.
4) The political forces nominated their candidates, credited the witnesses, developed the electoral campaign and carried out the election in peace, with all the guarantees set forth by the Constitution and the Law.
5) A total 233 candidate replacements were made by all the national and regional political forces participating in the election in a period of three days, during which the CNE kept the system open for the proper completion of such changes.Some political forces requested changes outside the timeframe established in the electoral schedule, and therefore were not made.
6) To guarantee the safety of voters, electoral workers and thus the normal development of the Governors’ election, the polling centers that were attacked or that could not be openedin the previous election were relocated. A total of 13,559 polling centers were set up for this election, and only 201 polling centers (1.48% of the total) were relocated.All centers were moved to places near the original polling center, with an average distance of 2,158 meters. In addition, all voters could check their new center location on the CNE’s website.
7) TheNational Electoral Councilhad the valuable support of the Bolivarian Armed Forces, which successfully executed the Republic Plan to guarantee the people’s expression via their vote.
8) It is noteworthy to say that 100% of the voting process in Venezuela takes place electronically via the Comprehensive Authentication System, a biometric authentication tool by which voters certify their identity in the voting machine with their ID number and fingerprints, and which is fully integrated into the voting machines.The inseparable link between a voter’s identity and their right to suffrage is a key feature of the implemented voting process and constitutes the foundation of the reliability and transparency of the current Venezuelan electoral system.
9) Use of fingerprint identification guarantees that no citizen can vote more than once, thus rendering the use of indelible ink unnecessary.
10) We witnessed first-hand the value and importance of the audits included in the schedule of the electoral processby which theNational Electoral Council, alongside the different political actors, are able to verify the voters’ database, the voting equipment’s software and hardware, the functioning of the data transmission networks, the counting and tallying. These audits allow to respond to the doubts that arise for political organizations, voters and society as a whole regarding: a. The equipment’s composition and functioning: voting machine, fingerprint reader, infrastructure, b. The respect and faithful register of the will of all voters, c. The respect of the secrecy of the vote, d. The existence of invalid voters, e. The percentage of the random samples selected for the different audits that require them, f. The possibility to alter the contents of the boxes containing the vote vouchers and the voting machines’ program, g. The communication between voting machines and the sending of data or results via the transmission network, h. Counting and tallying, i. All performed audits are transmitted in real time via the CNE’s website, and their respective minutes are also available on the site.
11) The results of all performed audits ratify the total reliability and transparency of the Venezuelan electoral system.
12) The voting process took place in total normalcy and in keeping with applicable legal, technical and organizational aspects. In addition, it saw the broad and organized participation of the Venezuelan people in a clear expression of their Popular Sovereignty. a. Most Polling Centers opened at the preset hour. b. In all cases, the electoral material arrived on time, complete and in proper conditions. c. Polling stations were constituted in keeping with the law. d. Witnesses from the different political forces were present and, in the view ofboth members of the government party and of members of opposition parties, they were able to perform their tasks without any obstacles and the process took place in a peaceful and normal environment. e. The secrecy of the vote was guaranteed. f. Polling station members demonstrated they were duly trained to carry out their task in compliance with the law, with quality and efficiency. g. Voters stated they were properly guided by polling station members and exercised their right to vote swiftly and without difficulty. h. We observed no political campaigning at the polling centers. i. Although some polling centers did not fully facilitate the access of disabled persons or of the elderly, in all cases there were people willing to help these voters exercise their right. j. Very few polling stations presented technical failures of the fingerprint machines. Such failures created discontent among the voters in line, but in all cases the problems were solved in compliance with the technical and organizational regulation of the CNE. k. We observed the presence of the armed forces in all polling centers to guarantee the safety and order of the process and to help voters in need of assistance, and none of the officials had an intimidating demeanor.
13) With this electoral event, the Venezuelan people demonstrated once again its determination to continue down the path of peace and democracy as the only way to achieve the superior objectives of their Nation.
14) The technical and organizational aspects of elections in Venezuela, with the highest quality, efficiency, safety and transparency, and with an Autonomous Electoral Power that exercises its functions in tandem with the other branches of the Public Power, make it one of the world’s best electoral systems.
15) The fact that Venezuela has held 22 elections in the last 18 years is an unmistakable proof of the democratic callingof the Venezuelan State and People.
16) We urge the peoples, Governments and the International Community to respect the Venezuelan people’s will as expressed in this election, wherein Venezuelans elected the Governors of the 23 States comprising the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
Caracas, Venezuela,October 15, 2017