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Electoral fraud anyone?

By Daniel Duquenal

The Venezuelan electronic electoral fraud plot thickens...Today the preliminary report from the commission studying the fraud on behalf of the Coordinadora Democratica has been released. The recommendation is quite obvious: the referendum should be brought to the courts to be voided as there seem to be enough evidence pointing to a possible electoral fraud.

But there is more. The electoral registry should be questioned, if not redone. Smartmatic, the smart assed machine seller, and associates should be brought to court in the US (Foreign Corrupt Practices Act). The Venezuelan ID card system should be overhauled as too many people seem to have fake ID cards.

I cannot yet at this point decide on the validity of all of these points though intuitively it is confirming a lot of the stuff I have been writing about recently. And still, this would not mean that Chavez lost the vote, only that Chavez fattened his lead, substantially. Is that enough to jail him? One would think so, but then again the Florida fiasco has yet to land anyone in jail as far as I know.

I will not go into details, I prefer to wait for more information until I decide which are the damming elements, in my opinion. One thing I liked though, is that the electronic fraud patterns have been varied and that this was a well thought fraud scheme. The disparity between SI and NO distribution was only a minor element! Real statisticians have found much more stuff and right now some are willing to put their academic career on the line by stating that the possibility that the distribution of the electoral results is LESS than 1% probable if there is no fraud involved. Translation: it looks like there is indeed fraud and this deserves further studies (the Haussman/Rigobon report). Meanwhile as Ibsen Martinez writes in his El Nacional column, Venezuela has become the land of mathematicians!

For the sake of entertainment I would like to report on two cute fraud mechanisms.

Apparently someone tried to make a quick buck by selling to a recycling facility some of the ballot boxes of the CNE. It seems that it is OK to sell old material but it seems that some of the boxes were from August 15... Far from me to think evil, rather I think that the CNE security is definitely lax and if some guy can sell ballots for recycling, imagine what the military guards have been able to do to the boxes. Definitely, counting ballots is now useless.

Another much more interesting thing is the number of voters in some circuits. For example, in Santos Michelena there are 41.941 inhabitants according to the 2004 census. Well, would you believe that there are 63.518 registered voters? That is, 153% of the people living there can vote. I suppose this gives a new meaning to dead people voting... You might say that this was a fluke. Unfortunately this happens in several other locales, and apparently up to 800 000 of the newly registered voters, in that scandalous last minute voting drive registration, did not report an address and thus we cannot check if they are legitimate.

I do not know about you, but this reminds me of the distinguished Louisiana voting history where even alligators voted.

PS: Written later. Listening to the TV this morning it seems that I misunderstood something yesterday. In the cases like Santos Michelena, there are actually more voters than the population or registered voters in those districts. If anything, it makes it worse. I will wait eagerly for the publication of these numbers and perhaps put a little one of my tables.

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