Venezuela Prepares for Regional Elections

Venezuelan electoral authorities completed Friday an audit of voting infrastructure, ahead of elections later this month.

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim
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A woman casts her vote at a polling station during the Constituent Assembly election in Caracas, Venezuela. (Reuters)
A woman casts her vote at a polling station during the Constituent Assembly election in Caracas, Venezuela. (Reuters)

Puebla, Mexico, October 6, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan electoral authorities completed Friday an audit of voting infrastructure, ahead of elections later this month.

According to state media outlet AVN, the National Electoral Council was set to complete its checks of Venezuela’s voting booths and other voting equipment, as the October 15 regional vote draws closer. The previous day, the CNE said it had audited their software, along with servers used by the country’s electronic voting system.

The final preparations were being made amid an ongoing controversy over last minute changes to ballots. The opposition has accused the CNE of failing to remove candidates who lost their primaries last month. Critics have warned that if the candidates remain on the ballots, opposition supporters could cast votes for candidates that aren’t technically in the race anymore, leaving their ballots null.

The controversy has even pulled in Canada, which issued a statement demanding the CNE scrub the null candidates from ballots.

“All political parties must be allowed to replace candidates according to the law ... Canada calls on the CNE to make decisions in full respect of the electoral law,” Canada’s embassy said.

On Wednesday the Supreme Court's Electoral Tribunal ruled that the CNE should accept candidate changes and modifications up to ten days before the elections. However, the decision has been criticised by opposition spokespeople as too little too late. They say that there is no longer time to make the substitutions, while the CNE has yet to officially comment.

But the candidate replacement issue isn’t the only controversy. The opposition has also accused the CNE of quietly shuttering 77 voting stations. Opposition leaders claim the closures were concentrated in areas that typically vote against the government.

Thought the CNE has not responded to the allegations, the President of the Council of Electoral Experts [CEELA] Nicanor Moscoso said Thursday that Venezuela’s voting system remains one of the best in the world.

“It is the safest method, and nobody can manipulate the information given by the voting machine,” he said.

According to teleSUR, Moscoso also praised the automated system as “extraordinary”.

The CNE signed an agreement with CEELA Thursday, and confirmed that the body will formally observe the country's upcoming elections.

The vote will take place on October 15, and will see the election of new governors and state legislators.