The Observatorio Electoral Venezolano (OEV), an NGO that tracks electoral processes in the country, announced yesterday that the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) skipped anywhere between 70 to 100 steps in its rush to hold the election for the Constituent Assembly, which is scheduled for July 31.
The CNE is the government body in charge of organizing and holding elections in the country. The CNE has been criticized since the Chavez era of working exclusively to the benefit of the PSUV, and of actively suppressing opposition efforts to bring about political change through elections.
The OEV pointed out that the skipped steps are mandated in the Ley Organica de Procesos Electoral [Electoral Processes Law], and that the CNE is not simply allowed to skip the steps for the sake of expediency.
The NGO counted just 32 electoral activities in the build-up to the July 31 vote, which include audits and other logistical processes that in theory should be conducted in order to ensure a smooth and fair vote. Comparing this electoral process to previous ones, the OEV asked:
In 2005, for example, the CNE set a schedule that included 105 activities for the parliamentary elections (which took six months), 103 for the parliamentary elections of 2010 (which took five and a half months), and 100 for the same process in 2015 (which took five months). How can it justify conducting a more complex process with only 32 activities in two months?
Maduro announced the Constituent Assembly on May 1. On May 23, the CNE announced that the election for the assembly’s representatives would take place on July 31. By comparison, it took the CNE seven months and several electoral processes to cancel the recall referendum vote against Maduro last year.
The OEV also pointed out that in the 2005, 2010 and 2015 elections, just the first step of the elections–an instructional campaigned designed to explain to voters why and how to vote–took 187, 165 and 168 days, respectively. Yet, from the moment that Maduro announced the Constituent Assembly to the day that Venezuelans go to the polls, only 91 days will have passed.
The steps that the CNE has skipped in its rush to hold the election include the accreditation of election observers and journalists as well as the recruitment and instructional period for the election volunteers who will staff the voting centres.
The OEV summarized its opinion of the CNE’s rush to the Constituent Assembly by saying the following:
The electoral schedule and be read as yet another piece of evidence that demonstrates the assault against law that the elections body has been carrying out in order to respond to–with unusual speed–the request from the Executive. Or, as a move by an institution that serves a government that is clearly a minority and is seeking to maintain in power a political group that has already been punished at the polls. The National Constituent Assembly now threatens to destroy the trust that people have placed in the automate voting system.
The Constituent Assembly will be made up of approximately 540 individuals who will be tasked with drafting a new national constitution. Critics from both sides of the political spectrum continue to argue that the measure is a naked attempt by the Maduro regime to cement its stranglehold on power through brute force.
National Assembly Unveils Corruption Scheme Worth $200 Million for Subsidized Food Boxes
An eight-month legislative investigation has found that the Maduro regime overpaid $200,000,000 USD for subsidized food boxes from a company called Postal, which is owned by a man named Samark Lopez.
In February of this year, the United States Department of the Treasury placed travel and financial restrictions on Lopez, and alleged that he is a surrogate of vice president Tarek El Aissami, whom the vice president uses to move and stash his own personal fortune. Through his connection with El Aissami, Lopez is also suspected of being an active player in regional drug trafficking operations.
National Assembly deputy Carlos Paparoni headed the investigation, and provided evidence in the form of official receipts that the regime paid approximately $29.56 for each box that contained subsidized food to be distributed to families in Venezuela. The boxes were imported from Mexico and were to be distributed through the CLAP system in Venezuela.
According to Paparoni, the regime imported 7 million boxes between January and June of this year at a price of $294,000,000 USD. However, according to the results of the investigation, for that price the regime should have been able to import 28 million boxes given their sale price in Mexico.
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