The Mechanics of the Venezuelan Vote

Angel Alberto Gonzalez

HAVANA TIMES — Venezuelans will go to the polls Sunday to elect a new president following the March 5 death of President Hugo Chavez.

In this contest, interim president Nicolas Maduro (who was chosen by Chavez as his political heir) will face off against opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, who served as the governor of Miranda (a state in central Venezuela).

Independents Reina Sequena (of the Labor Power Party), Maria Bolivar (from the PDUPL), Fredy Tabarquino (Joven) and Eusebio Mendez (NUVIPA) complete the picture of presidential candidates, notes dpa news.

The elections have been marked by atypical events, starting with Chavez’s death and followed by the organization of polling in just over 30 days by the National Electoral Council (CNE), and the realization of “blitz campaigning” over a mere 10-day period.

Each voter will choose an option using a voting machine that will then print out a ticket with their selected candidate. Each voter will then deposit their ticket in a ballot box where the votes will be counted later.

Each voter will have a maximum of five minutes to choose their option on the voting machine, but it’s estimated that on the average the exercise of their right to vote will take less than a minute due to the simplicity of the system.

In this election, more than 18 million Venezuelans over the age of 18 years will be eligible to vote, since the CNE decided to use the same voter registration rolls as employed in October 7 presidential election.

At that time, Chavez (1999-2013) defeated his opponent Capriles with 55 percent of the vote, which would have opened the way for him maintain power over the 2013-2019 period.

The CNE decided — as it did in the October elections — that these elections wouldn’t have international observers. Instead there will be an “accompaniment” mission that will track the voting, though their powers will be limited.

Both Chavez and the opposition have ensured that the elections will be safe and there is no possibility of electoral fraud or vote rigging.

However, the opposition has constantly accused CNE of having a majority close to the government in power, which has allowed Maduro to “abuse” the media and state resources in this election campaign.

The CNE has denied all those accusations, which it claims are expressed by “anti-democratic sectors.” The electoral body’s president, Tibisay Lucena, has repeatedly pointed to her institution’s professionalism and impartiality.

One thought on “The Mechanics of the Venezuelan Vote

  • H.L. Mencken must have had this election in mind when he said, “As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House (in this case Miraflores) will be adorned by a downright moron.”

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