Venezuela: The vote is secret
The Constitution is explicit: the vote is secret. Despite this, the government has tried to put fear into people by making them believe that, with the “fingerprint catcher” machines, it will be possible to find out how they voted; something that is completely false.
The government is betting on dissuading the undecided or the potential abstainers in addition to the people who already know how they are going to vote. The reasons can be found in the testimonies of hundreds of Venezuelans who were fired from their jobs in the government services and intimidated for having signed the petition for a presidential recall referendum, as stated in the complaints that the CTV (Venezuelan Workers’ Confederation) and other organizations have submitted to different international bodies.
Both the government side and the opposition have done their sums: if the opposition managed to get nearly 4 million signatures for the petition for the referendum in an open vote, in a closed, secret vote, the number of votes will be multiplied.
It is this conviction that has made the Democratic Coordinator so excessively zealous in taking care that the process is transparent, so ensuring that the vote will be private. And the predictions of what a secret vote could mean explains why the government majority at the National Electoral Council (CNE) has taken so long over the audits that will certify that this right will be respected. Now, with the end of the battle in sight, both the technicians of the Democratic Coordinator and the Center Carter and the OAS have certified directly that the secrecy of the vote is guaranteed.
They were able to confirm that, basically, the system that will be used is similar to the one employed by banks for financial transactions and that it will not be possible to violate the privacy of the vote, even with the “fingerprint catcher” machines, so questioned for other reasons.
It is as impossible for the “fingerprint hunter” machine to obtain information from the voting machine as it would be for an automatic teller to receive information from a cell phone that a customer happens to have on him when he withdraws money.
It is logical that, as this is the first time that this innovative automated system has been used in Venezuela and given the threats that have been made, many people are afraid that information on how they voted will be leaked. It is not in the government’s interest to clear up this doubt in people’s minds; it is, however, a task for the opposition, who can back up its arguments with the statements of the international observers.
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