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Venezuela: Widespread Irregularities During Local Elections

By: Sofía Ramírez Fionda - Dec 8, 2013, 9:45 pm

EspañolThe official hour for the closure of local elections in Venezuela has passed, but there are many reports of disputes at the polls. According to complaints from various parts of the country, voting machine failures and a lack of polling staff were responsible for the delay.

Sumate, the NGO that observes the electoral process, received 425 complaints of irregularities from 324 polling centers, potentially effecting more than 981,000 voters. The majority of these complaints were related to problems with the voting machines and irregular accompaniment of voters, which may violate the right to a secret ballot.

In the polling center for Universidad Nueva Esparta — home to 9,000 voters and one of the most important in El Hatillo, Miranda — the voting machines had consistent failures after every certain number of registered votes. The polling authorities did not allow manual voting due to the number of positions to be elected, so the voting machines had to be replaced. Reports of the same problems have come in from various polling stations including some in Lara and Sucre.

Ramon Guillermo Aveledo, executive secretary of Mesa de la Unida Democrática (MUD) — the opposition coalition — said that about 60 percent of eligible voters participated in the elections. In a press conference, the representative for the opposition thanked the voters who attended the polling, but he said to the citizens still in the polling centers passed closing time, unable to exercise the right to vote, that they should remain alert for the chance to properly participate in the electoral process.

Aveledo announced that the MUD would report all irregularities that arose during the day, before the security officials of Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE), the agency administering the elections.

Meanwhile, Vicente Diaz, chief rector of the CNE, announced at a press conference at 7:30 p.m. VET, that in the next few hours they will give temporary results. He stressed that voters who are still waiting in the voting centers have the right to exercise their vote beyond 6:00 p.m. and that these elections unfolded completely normally. Finally, he called for both winners and losers to observe peacefully the announcements of the CNE election results.

Sofía Ramírez Fionda Sofía Ramírez Fionda

Based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Ramírez Fionda is a former Spanish-language editor and journalist with the PanAm Post. She holds degrees in political science and international relations, and you can follow her on Twitter @SofiFionda.