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Update on Venezuela's electoral fraud

By Aleksander Boyd

London 10 September 2004 Claims of electoral fraud in Venezuela are dangerously moving to the realm of science. A myriad of studies, analysis of data, mean deviations charts and applied Benford's Law have been put forth lately, in sum matters that would make a mathematician quite happy to spent time on. However accurate these hypotheses may turn out to be, they are, in my humble opinion, not contributing to clarify the many doubts that we have vis-a-vis the results of the recall referendum. I shall point out, in more mundane language, a set of facts, that to this date, are irrefutable proof of fraud.

Fact number 1

The odd announcement of preliminary results by Electoral Director Francisco Carrasquero on Monday, August 16th at around 3:45AM. The indisputable issue here is that representatives of the Carter Centre and the OAS were not present in the totalizing room prior to the announcement (as admitted publicly by OAS Sec. General Cesar Gaviria and Carter Center's Jennifer McCoy), neither there were representatives of the opposition. Their entry to the tallying room was prohibited by the chavista majority of the electoral board (Carrasquero, Rodriguez and Battaglini) as denounced by, also absent, electoral directors Sobella Mejias and Ezequiel Zamora. This in contravention to the norms and regulations approved by the electoral body.

Fact number 2

Ballot boxes that were meant to be under the close surveillance of CNE officials and international observers were in fact scattered around the country guarded by military personnel assigned to the "Plan Republica". Parts of the cargo had not arrived in the CNE headquarters in Caracas up until 60 hours after the polling centres had been closed. Neither electoral authorities nor international observers or members of the opposition could safeguard the integrity of the boxes, for these were being manned by the army. Bear in mind that, on the occasion of the second audit demanded by the opposition, the seal wraps of the boxes signed by the officials assigned to each voting centre were not cross checked with corresponding signatures in tallies before the boxes selected for the scrutiny were opened (electoral officials accredited to each polling centre had to sign the seal wraps, the tallies produced and other paraphernalia) [1].

Fact number 3

The software that was to be utilized in the generation of the random sample of boxes to be scrutinized was not the one proposed by the OAS or the Carter Centre, but rather that picked by one of the pro-Chavez directors of the CNE, Jorge Rodriguez, who ran the programme to select the boxes to be audited in the computers of the CNE. Moreover the person in charge of introducing the seed to the software programme that was to select randomly the centers and corresponding boxes to be audited was Tibisay Lucena, substitute director of the CNE also partisan with the Chavez administration. Ergo both Carter Centre and OAS officials lied throught their teeth when they gave assurances to the opposition that only their proposed software were to be put to the test, as later admitted in their report [2].

Fact number 4

The set of steps in which the tallies were to be printed at the end of the vote were unadvisedly and illegally changed. That is to say that voting machines were meant to print the tally upon conclusion of the event, to then proceed to send the information to the servers. This process was reverted, i.e. totals were sent to the servers which returned the numbers to be printed in the tallies.

Fact number 5

Electoral Director Jorge Rodriguez imposed which states and constituencies were to participate in the pool of voting centres of the first audit from where the random selection of ballot boxes and tallies were to be produced. The opposition was permitted to witness the audit of only 27 voting centres (out of a total of 199 'randomly selected' by the CNE's software). In the said 27 centres the YES option (Chavez to be recalled) won with 63% of the votes. The forceful abandonment of opposition representatives from the audit was not denounced by international observers.

[1] http://www.cartercenter.org/documents/1820.pdf, page 3 (3.2).

[2] http://www.cartercenter.org/documents/1820.pdf, beginning of page 2.



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