Carter Center Supports Rule Prohibiting Publication of Projections before Referendum Ends

In response to opposition announcements to publish projections of the referendum vote before polls close, the Carter Center, the electoral council, and government representatives came out with strong statements against such plans.

Caracas, August 11, 2004—The Carter Center, a long standing Atlanta-based international observer in Venezuela, called upon the media and political partisans to refrain from transmitting or publishing referendum results prior to the time set by the National Electoral Council (CNE), Venezuela’s only electoral authority. 

The Carter Center’s support of the CNE comes a day after statements by a key opposition leader, Enrique Mendoza, who promised the public that he would transmit results at 2pm on the day of the referendum, well before the polls close.

Francisco Diez, the Carter Center’s representative, read a communiqué in support of the CNE’s decision to ban publication of polls and public announcements of referendum results seven days before the day of the referendum on August 15.

Opposition accepts CNE conditionally

Meanwhile Mendoza continued his challenge of the CNE by meeting with international observers including the Carter Centre and former president of Argentina, Raul Alfonsín, to protest the manual cards to be used during the referendum.  Mendoza claims the cards are marked with a number that will compromise the secrecy of the ballot.  While other leaders of the opposition assured observers that they would respect CNE results, they also warned that they will give the CNE a certain amount of time to provide the first results but that they would not accept a delay that would create a climate uncertainty as they claim happened previously during the “repair” process, in which Venezuelans re-certified their signatures on the recall referendum petition.

Government seeks accord with opposition

The government expressed its desire to sign an unconditional agreement with the opposition to respect the results of the referendum immediately after being presented by the CNE, the day after the referendum. 

Vice-President José Vicente Rangel said he hopes that the opposition would sign the agreement to respect referendum results.  “An agreement signed by the Comando Maisanta [the pro-Chavez referendum team] and the leadership of the Coordinadora Democratica [the opposition coalition] to commit to ratifying the results that the CNE announces, to not promote protests and to respect public order.  I hope that will happen,” Rangel said.

Thumbs down for CANTV

A special government commission investigating complaints against the telecommunications company, CANTV, and its suitability to transmit voter data on referendum day concluded that it will suggest that the CNE exclude some of CANTV’s managers and directors from participating in the referendum. Commission president, Ismael Garcia, said that they were not satisfied with explanations by CANTV President, Gustavo Roosen, and that today they will send inspection teams to CANTV installations across the city. 

The commission will also invite Mendoza to explain his declaration that he intends to publicize referendum results through the media before the polls close.  Opposition members of the commission have protested the invitation.