Caracas, Venezuela, September 15, 2006 – The National Electoral Council (CNE) announced yesterday that 16 million Venezuelans have registered to vote in the upcoming presidential elections in December. That is an increase of 34.5% from those registered last December for the National Assembly elections.
The preliminary Electoral Register (RE) has been released in order for Venezuelans to check their details in a bid to reduce fraud and increase confidence in the system. Janeth Hernández, CNE Vice-President, said that, “between the 15st and 21st of the current month, the electorate will be able to verify if their registration, changes and the rest of the information supplied to the RE were input correctly.”
This is the second time inside a year that the RE has been available for public verification. In the past, those in opposition to the Chávez government had complained that there were irregularities in the RE, with multiple entries for single individuals, as well as ‘dead people’ voting. This is one of the reasons they gave for withdrawing from last year´s National Assembly elections.
The exact number registered is 16,081,791. 15.9 million of these are of Venezuelan nationality while the remainder are foreign nationals with at least 10 years residence in the country. Although the foreign nationals are permitted to vote in municipal elections they won’t be able to take part in the presidential election. There are also an additional 56,000 Venezuelans overseas and these will be allowed to vote.
Once all RE queries have been dealt with the CNE will begin selecting people for the audit of the voting systems and tables. This will all be carried out according to Plan Republic which is in place to ensure the elections are fair, and guaranteed by the security of the Armed Forces.
Hernández also called on those citizens that had any complaints to make regarding violations of the Norms of Publicity and Propaganda for the Presidential Campaign to do so. The Norms are there to regulate the current campaign thereby ensuring a fair contest.
The opposition claims that state funds are being used to finance the campaign of President Chávez. They also say that state media give more air time to the Chávez campaign than the Rosales campaign. Manuel Rosales is the main opposition candidate.
Accusations have also been thrown from the Chavez camp. 2 weeks ago the Chávez campaign accused Globovisión of sending a subliminal message during an commercial celebrating the achievements of the Zulia state government, of which, until he decided to run for the presidency, Rosales was head. Globovisión is a private national news channel widely known for its anti-government bias.