Venezuelans Living Overseas Will Not be Able to Participate in Signature Drives for Recall Referenda

National Electoral Council says that it does not have the technical capability to prevent fraud in overseas signature collection centers. Only 0.2 percent of registered voters live overseas.

Caracas, Nov. 14 ( The Electoral National Council (CNE), decided yesterday that Venezuelan citizens living overseas will not be able to participate in the signature drive to request recall referenda on elected officials in Venezuela.

CNE vice-president Ezequiel Zamora, announced in a press conference that the decision of the Council’s directory was adopted with three votes in favor and two abstentions.

Three other decisions more were made at the last CNE Directory meeting, among them, to make a public call to electoral observers so that they attend the training sessions in order to be certified by the CNE. Another decision refers to the prohibition of public events or acts of political nature by organizations that are not part of the signature collection process during the dates that the signatures are to be collected.

The CNE also approved the norms that will regulate the publicity and propaganda for the recall referenda. Zambrano said that some of the articles of the norms were approved with majority vote as some CNE members abstained. Some recommendations given by representatives of mass media were incorporated in the regulations.

Only 0.2 percent of voters overseas

With regard to de decision of not allowing Venezuelans overseas to participate in the recall petition drives, CNE member Jorge Rodriguez said that all rights must regulated and the norms that regulate them create limitations. The decision is mostly based on the fact that the CNE doesn’t have the technical means to control the signature collection process overseas and therefore prevent fraud.

Rodriguez dismissed claims made by opposition groups about the number of Venezuelans registered to vote overseas. “There are 26.500 Venezuelans living overseas who are registered with the CNE, not 400.000,” said Rodriguez. That represents about 0.2 percent of Venezuela’s electorate of almost 12 million.


CNE member Sobeida Mejías disagreed with the rest of the members on the decision to not allow the collection of signatures overseas. “It is illegal for the CNE to prevent the participation of the 26,500 registered voters overseas because that violates their constitutional rights and they are being discriminated against.”

Oscar Bataglini, another member of the Council justified the decision by saying that the CNE does not have the capacity to control signature collection centers overseas, which forced them to adopt the measure to avoid the possibility of fraud.

Battaglini said that all Venezuelan have the right to participate in any electoral process, but all the constitutional rights have laws and regulations and the CNE has the jurisdiction to regulate the transparency and the control of these [electoral] processes.

Decisions angered both sides

The decision of not allowing signature collection overseas has angered opposition leaders as it is thought that most Venezuelan overseas oppose the government of President Chavez.

The CNE recently announced the suspension of the signature drive to revoke the mandate of governors and mayors, decision that angered government supporters, as they planned to recall several elected officials of the opposition. The decision was based on the fact that their terms end next year.