Caracas , December 2, 2006 (venezuelanalysis.com)— Venezuelans vote on Sunday December 3 for their choice for president for the next six years. The National Electoral Council (CNE) says everything is ready for the day.
The polling stations will open at 6 am and are scheduled to close at 4 pm, unless there are voters still in line and unless the CNE extends the hours due to special circumstances. Tibisay Lucena, the president of the CNE put it like this, “There is no fixed time for the closure of polling stations. Rather, the voting centers will remain open for as long as there remains people lining up, as according to the law”.
There are about 16 million Venezuelans who are registered to vote, 56,000 of which are based overseas and will be allowed to vote too. There will be 33,002 voting centers in the country that will cater for these voters.
The voting process itself has come under much scrutiny. It begins with voter identification. This is done through digital finger print scanning. Although this method has been widely seen as safe, many opposition supports are suspicious of it as they think it could endanger the right to anonymity while voting. After that the person is identified with the ID card. At this point they are also given instructions as to how the voting machines operate. Finally, the person votes on a touch screen voting machines, which prints a paper ballot that the voter then deposits in the voting urn. The last step it dip one’s finger into some indelible ink, as an added guarantee that no one votes more than once.
Around 500 international observers will watch this process. They are arriving from the European Union, the Organisation of American States, Mercosur, the Carter Center, and there will also be representatives from the German, Spanish, Belgian and French parliaments.
Things are quiet in Caracas now as further campaigning is prohibited. Everybody is waiting for the big day.