Venezuela to Simulate Upcoming Regional Vote

An upcoming simulation of the regional vote for governors and mayors will test Venezuela's voting system prior to the actual vote. The oppositon, however, insists that it will not participate in the October 31 vote if the voter registry is not revised first.

Caracas, October 7, 2004—This Sunday Venezuela will have simulated elections as a practice run for state, municipal, and legislative council elections to be held on October 31, the country’s national electoral council (CNE) announced yesterday.

Tibisay Lucena, who is in charge of the election logistics, explained that the test would take place on Sunday between 8:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.  The electoral authorities plan to time the election process and monitor the logistics of the simulation and the electoral computers as well as the fingerprint scanning machines.

The company that has provided the electoral computers, Smartmatic, said that it will also evaluate the performance of its machines, looking into any possible instances of errors.

Through a press release, the U.S. based company said it will it will provide the necessary tests required to “guarantee an optimal voting and tally process.”

CNE expected to propose the auditing of 5,000 voting machines 

According to sources cited by the Caracas newspaper Ultimas Noticias, the CNE will announce its intention to audit 5,000 voting machines after the close of the upcoming regional elections. 

This number represents 21 per cent of the national total of 23,594 automated voting tables. Opposition governors and mayors requested that 31 per cent of tables be audited, that is, one table for every voting station in the country.  Government representatives said that between 1-4 per cent would have been “reasonable.”

The governor of Sucre state and representative of government leaders, Ramón Martinez, said that the proposal to inspect one table for every voting station is unacceptable.  “It is barbarous, an exaggeration and what they really want is to delay the results and to postpone the elections, something that cannot be allowed,” Martinez said.  However, Martinez said that government leaders would accept whichever decision made by the CNE.

Martinez also said that he has requested that those who voted against President Chavez during the referendum be removed from representing the country’s electoral authorities at the voting stations.

The CNE has invited international observers once again to supervise regional elections.  Among those invited are the Organization of American States (OAS), the Carter Center, the European Union, and Mercosur.  Writers and ex-presidents have also been invited including, Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Colombia), Juan Gelman (Uruguay), Eduardo Duhalde (ex-president of Argentina), and Mexican leader, Cuathemoc Cárdenas, among others.

Opposition leaders prepared to boycott regional elections if CNE does not meet demands

The secretary General of one of Venezuela’s former governing parties, Copei, says that if the country’s electoral authority does not clean up the electoral registry, the opposition should prepare to boycott the regional elections. 

“If the CNE does not correct fraudulent registrations and violates the judicial order of the country, we have to prepare for an electoral boycott,” said César Pérez Vivas, the Secretary General of Copei, referring to 1,734,489 new registered voters that Perez claims have no recorded addresses and violates Venezuelan electoral law.

The government representative for the regional elections, Ramón Martinez, said that these voters will not be denied their right to vote.  “These are Venezuelans and under no circumstances their right to vote be denied,” Martinez said.