Mérida, November 22, 2008 (venezuelanalysis.com)– Participating parties ended their campaigns for the November 23 regional elections on Thursday, many marking the day with large marches and rallies that were mostly drenched by rain. Beginning with Friday morning at 6am, all electoral propaganda, including TV and radio, was prohibited.
On Friday only the written press was allowed to publish details of the closing campaign events, and only in a way that was informative rather than electoral propaganda.
International observer and Italian economist, Luciano Vasapollo, has said that the upcoming elections guarantee human, electoral, and civil rights. Further, he characterized the system for electing governors and mayors as “direct and participative democracy.”
Vasapollo is among 134 international observers from 52 countries who will verify the legitimacy and conduct of the elections and who will be able to observe all the stages of voting, including the system of information transmission after the vote.
The National Bolivarian Armed Forces have been deployed across the country to watch over the electoral booths and to ensure normality in the electoral process. At present, in only two states (Merida and Trujillo) the security plan hasn’t been able to be fully implemented due to rain causing difficulty in access.
The security plan, called Plan Republic, has deployed 140,000 militia and reserves on top of the armed forces and state and municipal police that have been made available for the day. In addition, 5,000 militia will watch over the most important electric plants and there are contingency plans in the case of weather problems.
As part of the measures to guarantee normal functioning of the voting centres, alcohol consumption is banned from 2pm local time, until the day after the elections. The Caracas metro and Metrobus will be free.
The National electoral council (CNE) has trained 135,000 Venezuelans to look after and run the booths on voting day. Each voting table will have three principal members and a secretary, as well as two or three substitutes, who will also be in attendance, in case they need to be incorporated. Also, each party on the ballot is entitled to one representative.
CNE President Tibisay Lucena said that Venezuela’s electoral system is an example for the world. “It is secure not because we say it is, but because it is 100 percent auditable in every one of its phases and components,” said Lucena.
Almost 17 million Venezuelans are registered to vote to choose 22 state governors, 328 mayors, 233 legislative council members, and 13 councillors for Caracas city and 7 for the city council of Alto Apure.