As we have noted previously, statistical analysis shows that Venezuelan opposition challenger Henrique Capriles has an almost impossible chance of seeing the April 14 election result change through a full audit of voting machines, as he had demanded.
We have issued two press releases about this, as well as our full paper detailing our calculations step-by-step, and CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot had an op-ed on this in Aljazeera English. Mark also presented these findings at a recent high-profile conference at the Celso Furtado Center in Rio. Despite being reported in a variety of Latin American and Spanish media, including Spanish newspaper El País, Argentine media outlet Télam, and Venezuela’s Panorama, the U.S. media has ignored this important part of the story. We have corresponded with several reporters who initially expressed interest in the one-in-25-thousand-trillion figure. None of them has since cited the statistical improbability of Capriles’ seeing the election results change through the full audit, nor have other major U.S. media outlets. One reporter writing for a major U.S. newspaper has told us that his editors refuse to publish anything related to our statistical analysis or regarding the audit and its significance more generally.
Henrique Capriles’ recent comments demonstrate why the ongoing vote audit, and more importantly, the first audit (conducted on April 14) is still relevant. In an El Pais article from May 9, Capriles says that 400,000 more people voted for him than Maduro, and that therefore the CNE’s vote count must have been wrong:
“If they rescind the electoral records we have questioned in the electoral dispute we have filed with the Supreme Court – which make up 55.4 percent of the votes cast – we would win the elections by 400,000 votes, two percent in our favor. And that’s without going into details,” he says with righteous conviction.
It appears that Capriles is still alleging the vote count was stolen in a way that would have been detectable in the first audit, and hence the statistical analysis still applies. If tens of thousands of voters voted multiple times, it would be very difficult to stuff the receipt boxes to match the multiple voting, without having some discrepancies between the machine and the paper count. The receipt boxes are in plain sight of all observers and it would be impossible for a voter to stuff multiple pieces of paper through the thin slot without anyone seeing. It would also be impossible to vote more than once without not only the collaboration of observers to fix the machines to allow this, but a conspiracy involving tens of thousands of people, with no subsequent leaks.
The audits of a large majority of voting machines, however, have not found these discrepancies. The initial “hot audit” was done on site, in the presence of the observers from both the Capriles and Maduro campaigns, as well as witnesses from the community. There were no reports from witnesses or election officials on site of discrepancies between the machine totals and the hand count.
Statistical analysis shows that it would be almost impossible – less than a one in 25 thousand trillion chance – for the first 53 percent of voting machines not to show discrepancies if there were sufficient discrepancies in the remaining 46 percent that would overturn the election results.
If Capriles feels this lucky, he should play the lottery. His odds of winning the Powerball jackpot in the U.S. or any other lottery would be vastly greater.