Venezuela’s National Electoral Council Successfully Concludes Voting Test

Venezuel's National Electoral Council (CNE) simulated the voting
process on Sunday in order to test its functioning and found no flaws
in the process.

By Tamara Pearson - Venezuelanalysis.com
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October 27, 2008 (venezuelanalysis.com)-- Venezuel's National Electoral Council (CNE) simulated the voting process on Sunday in order to test its functioning and found no flaws in the process.

The November 23 regional, local, and legislative elections will be the first time that the voting process will be 100% automated in Venezuela. The CNE hopes to have partial results three hours after polling booths close.

The president of the CNE, Tibisay Lucena, explained that this rehearsal aimed to reach out to as many of the voters as possible, familiarizing them with the computer system that will be used on the voting booths, and that this will continue until November 20 with 1,500 events held in the communities and health and education centers.

During the simulation the CNE arranged 52 pilot voting centers, set up with all the technology and electoral workers, and checked the voting times, which were estimated to be between 1 and 3 minutes due to the complexity of the voting. The functioning of the computers, the software, and the transfer of the information was also tested, and found to be satisfactory.

Lucena called on the 17 million voters to decide on their preferred candidates in advance in order to not unnecessarily delay the voting.

"The familiarity and the naturalness in which we Venezuelans vote is an example for the entire world. Our elections have been the most observed, and...we have always shown our commitment to democracy," she said.

The voting system of Venezuela can be audited in 16 stages, including the electoral propaganda material.  The Human Rights Ombudsperson and various other Venezuelan organizations will be observing the process.

The voting process is as follows: The voter presents their identification card, is directed towards the voting booth, and asked if they know how to vote. If they do not, the president of the voting booth will explain it to them. When they are ready to vote, the computer is unblocked and they have 3 minutes to vote. If they do not vote in this time the machine will need to be reactivated. After voting the machine issues a printout of the vote, which is deposited in the voting box. Finally, the voter's finger is marked with permanent ink.

2,740 voting centers have been installed in the country, which are all equipped with back up batteries for the voting machines in case of a blackout.

Voters can find out all the information they need about voting and the candidates at the CNE website, http://www.cne.gov.ve/divulgacion_regionales_2008/