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Surprising Irregularities in Venezuela’s Electoral Roll

By Casto Ocando | El Nuevo Herald

22.06.06 | At the age of 175, Molina Lantz is but one of 17,000 persons born in the 19th Century who are still registered with the REP as citizens with the right to vote. If one were to include all who are older than 100, the list of the long-lived exceeds 39,000, a phenomenon that has caused controversy in the South American country.

“It is something strange, it seemed to me a very high number,” assured Adolfo Fabregat, an information systems architect originally from Uruguay who discovered the details of these irregularities in the REP by using a complex combination of data analysis programs during his free time at his home in Blythewood, South Carolina.

In order to compare and contrast the figures, Fabregat said that there are as many as 50,000 hundred-year-old persons in the United States, even though it is a country having ten times more inhabitants and a longer life expectancy than Venezuela.

“The most surprising thing is that this data base was supposedly audited and purged before being published, and it is hard to understand how these thousands of persons are still in the registry,” wrote Fabregat, age 57, in a report on his findings initially published on the website www.vcrisis.com.

El Nuevo Herald tried to obtain an opinion from the National Electoral Council (CNE) in Caracas concerning Fabregat’s findings, but received no replies. The irregularities in the registry, made up of more than 14 million voters, have been at the center of the electoral polemic in Venezuela during the last few weeks.

When a group from three prestigious universities proposed an independent audit to the CNE in order to purge it and make it more “reliable”, the new CNE authorities, made up primarily of persons beholden to the Chavista régime, proposed incorporating seven other university centers in order to broaden the consultation, among these the Bolivarian University, founded by President Chávez in 2003.

Representatives from the three universities—the Simón Bolívar University and the Central University of Venezuela, both autonomous, as well as the private Andrés Bello Catholic University—complained that the methodology approved by the majority of the pro-government universities did not guarantee an independent study of the registry.

Nevertheless, the CNE approved an audit without taking into account criteria presented by the three universities, a fact that provoked an energetic protest by leaders of the opposition.

“How can one trust an audit in which there is representation from only non-autonomous universities, which are the ones who answer to the Ministry of Education?” wrote presidential candidate Teodoro Petkoff, in an editorial in the daily Tal Cual which he directs in Caracas. “Here the government pays itself and keeps the change,” he noted in his article.

“This régime is rotten,” said the former president of the CNE, Ezequiel Zamora, to the daily El Universal.

In response, the CNE had indicated that the approved audit has a serious and acceptable scientific foundation. “The audit of the electoral roll will be carried out with total normality and there will be respect for established methodological parameters,” said Sandra Oblitas, one of the rectors of the entity.

What the opposition fears is that the audit might not eliminate the numerous irregularities such as those discovered by Fabregat.

For example, according to an information technology specialist, between 2003 and 2006 there were 2.2 million new voters registered in the REP, while during the 2000-2003 period the number signing on hardly reached 200,000.

When he conducted an analysis of the registry according to month and date of birth, Fabregat ran into oddities as telling as the very high number of births on the same date of the same year in the same state, and the systematic duplication of names with identical dates of birth.

“I found that certain dates in March and October contain many more births than the rest of the days of the year. And I found, for example, that in Zulia 19,000 births were registered on March 15, 1974, while for the rest of the days the average number stood between 3,000 and 5,000 births,” Fabregat gave as details.

Upon completion of an analysis of voters by first, middle and last names, he found 24,000 cases of duplicated names. “These are two exactly identical names with the same date of birth, while at the same time they are the only two registries with that name on the entire rolls,” thus explained the technologist. “That is almost impossible statistically speaking,” he noted.

Fabregat’s findings coincide with denouncements made in Venezuela concerning the high level of inconsistencies in the REP.

There are “significant accumulations of irregular cases” in the REP, according to a denouncement made this week by Oscar Pérez, a member of the organization known as the National Resistance Command.

“Of 16 million voters currently on the electoral rolls, 8 million of these citizens have no address and obviously cannot be located,” thus assured Pérez.

During a visit to the CNE in Caracas meant to denounce the irregularities, the opposition activist cited cases of persons who appear on the registry with names such as LCEM or XX, or with national identification cards having two digits.

“We have presented thousands of cases such as these, where people with double and triple sets of national identification cards are given the right to vote here in this country,” declared Pérez.

The results of all of Fabregat’s analyses are stored in his computer and are open to the public through the website http://fabregat.us

ocasto@herald.com

Source: El Nuevo Herald

Translation by W.K.



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