Electoral Council Set October 31 for Regional Vote in Venezuela

The new date for electing state governors, city mayors, and local city councils will be October 31. This is the third extension, which the electoral council is justifying on technical grounds.

Caracas, Sep.3, 2004–After long debates, the Venezuela’s national electoral council (CNE) has chosen October 31 as the date for state and municipal elections, despite a legal challenge by the government ruling party that is protesting the extension of the election date.

Jorge Rodriguez, president of the National Electoral Directorate, announced that CNE directors unanimously agreed to the change of date for the regional, municipal and local council elections. According to the approved elections schedule, political campaigning is set to begin on September 18 and to continue until October 28.

The CNE also approved the opening of the voter registry from September 4 to 8, so that citizens who reach the voting age by October 31 may register in time for the upcoming elections. Also, Rodriguez explained that new nominations could not be made, but that substitutions could be made according to the country’s voter law.

Immediately after the CNE announced the election date, National Assembly representative for the ruling government party (MVR), William Lara, announced that his party will consult with their legal advisors to protest the CNE decision at the supreme court level.

Lara said that the CNE decision to postpone the elections based on technical reasons is “insufficient” to justify prolonging the date, adding that the mandates for governors and mayors have already expired.  “The CNE is acting improperly in the sense that it is prolonging periods of public office and that is not the constitutional function of those organizations,” Lara said.

According to Lara, the mandate of governors and mayors, as well as representatives in local Legislative Councils among others, “has expired and that already in two occasions the electoral authority extended their mandate. Today they are doing it again.”