Mérida, 1st October (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) undertook its final test of voting machines yesterday as part of preparations in the lead up to the presidential vote on Sunday, when incumbent President Hugo Chavez will stand against right-wing opponent Henrique Capriles Radonski.
600 voters representing each of Venezuela’s 24 regional states were brought to a large CNE warehouse in the central Miranda state for the test yesterday. While the participants voted on the 200 randomly selected machines, CNE technicians, representatives of the presidential candidates, and the electoral accompaniment mission from the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) were able to assess the functioning of the voting system.
The audit was also used to test the functioning of the electronic transmission of voting information to the CNE’s central totalling system.
CNE president Tibisay Lucena confirmed that the test had been a success. “All of the technical tests have been successful. In this audit we verified that the electoral system functions perfectly, without problems and that the results that we give on 7 October will be the perfect reflection of Venezuelans’ will”.
One of the participants in the test, Ruben Gomez, from Sucre state, congratulated the CNE on their work, stating, “We confirm with our own eyes that the [voting] process is trustworthy and exact, therefore my recommendation to citizens is that they go out and vote, because your vote is going to count for whom you choose”.
Lucena also confirmed that the CNE would not announce results of 7 October until after every voting centre has closed, and that the trend of totalled votes is irreversible toward one candidate.
Publication of voting intention surveys is prohibited during the week before the election. Nearly all major Venezuelan polling companies gave Hugo Chavez a double-digit lead in their last polls, with the closest gap between Chavez and Capriles found by private firm Datanalisis, at 10 percentage points.
The CNE also announced to the press yesterday that a total of 329,000 people will be working on 7 October to ensure the perfect functioning of the electoral process. This includes a coordinator for each of the 13,810 voting centres and over 187,000 assistants in those centres, as well as technical staff and voting system operators.
Meanwhile 3,435 national electoral observers and 245 international accompaniers will be present on the day.
Tibisay Lucena described Venezuela’s electoral system as fully prepared for voting on Sunday. “In all its components the Venezuelan electoral system is armoured; physically, logically and even spiritually,” she confirmed.
Venezuela’s Integrated Authentication System (SAI) voting system is completely automated. It can be activated by thumbprint recognition, with voters using touchscreen technology to vote and also receiving a paper receipt to confirm their choice. Former US president Jimmy Carter recently described Venezuela’s voting system as “the best in the world”.