Millions of Venezuelans took to voting centres across the country today to cast their ballots in gubernatorial elections, the first held in the country since 2012. At stake were 23 governorships, 20 of which began the day in the hands of the ruling PSUV party.
The winner of the day was the PSUV, which was apparently able to stem the tide of discontent with Maduro’s by winning 17 states. The opposition–which was expecting huge wins today–picked up just two more states than it did in 2012, winning just five.
The shocking results were read out by Tibisay Lucena, the head of the Consejo Nacional Electoral, at around 10:00 PM local time. Below, the winners in each state as announced by Lucena, along with their share of the vote:
- Amazonas: PSUV Miguel Rodriguez (59.85%)
- Anzoategui: OPPOSITION Antonio Barreto (52.01%)
- Apure: PSUV Ramon Carrizales (51.92%)
- Aragua: PSUV Rodolfo Marcos Torres (56.83%)
- Barinas: PSUV Argenis Chavez (52.88%)
- Carabobo: PSUV Rafael Lacava (51.96%)
- Cojedes: PSUV Margaud Godoy (55.48%)
- Falcon: PSUV Victor Clark (51.86%)
- Guarico: PSUV Jose Vasquez (61.68%)
- Lara: PSUV Carmen Melendez (57.65%)
- Merida: MUD Ramon Guevara (51.05%)
- Miranda: PSUV Hector Rodriguez (52.54%)
- Monagas: PSUV Yelitze Santaella (53.94%)
- Nueva Esparta: MUD Alfredo Diaz (51.01%)
- Portuguesa: PSUV Rafael Calles (64.24%)
- Sucre: PSUV Edwin Rojas (59.89%)
- Tachira: MUD Laidy Gomez (Note: Apologies for not catching her vote percentage).
- Trujillo: PSUV Henry Rangel Silva (59.9%)
- Yaracuy: PSUV Julio Leon Heredia (61.88%)
- Zulia: MUD Juan Pablo Guanipa (51.06%)
- Delta Amacuro: PSUV Lizetta Hernandez (58.78%)
- Vargas: PSUV Jorge Luis Garcia (52.35%)
- Bolivar: Undecided
As in previous elections, the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE)–which is in charge of elections–refused to order the closure of voting centres at 6:00 PM, as mandated by law. Henri Falcon, the opposition candidate in Falcon state, alleged that voting centres under the control of state security forces were being kept open beyond 6:00 PM.
As of 8:00 PM local time, the CNE had not made the announcement to close the voting centres. National Assembly deputy Juan Requesens spoke on the matter, saying:
It’s been more than two hours since 6:00 PM, which is the estimated time for the closing of empty voting centres, but the CNE has not yet called an end to the process.
According regime critics, keeping voting centres open allows the regime to get more electors into areas that need more PSUV votes.
The electronic voting machines for today’s election were provided by Ex-Cle, an Argentinian company that works in the biometric industry. The company replaces SmartMatic, which drew the ire of the Maduro regime after it announced that the government committed fraud in the July 30 Constituent Assembly election by fabricating the election results.
Election Marred by Regime Attempts to Suppress Vote
There were numerous reports from all across the country of regime efforts to suppress today’s vote. Common vote suppression tactics included the sudden closure of voting centres, intimidation of electors at voting centres by regime forces, as well as unexplained delays in the opening of voting centres at the start of the day.
In Maracaibo, the capital of Zulia state, soldiers deployed to oversee the election as part of a security initiative called Plan Republica prevented election observers and workers from entering the Elisa Faria voting centre this morning. In the Chuaco neighbourhood of Caracas, a “megacentre”–made up of a number of voting centres that were suddenly amalgamated four days ago–did not open on time because of technical issues with the voting machines. Voting machine failure also delayed the opening of voting centres in Merida, the capital of Merida state.
By law, voting centres should have been opened and ready to receive the first votes at 6:00 AM. An elector at a Palo Verde voting centre in Caracas told El Nacional:
They opened at 8:00 AM. Things were delayed. They told us that the [voting] machines hadn’t been set up yet. They only let in elderly people, and they wouldn’t let in the rest of us.
Pro-Regime Armed Groups Attack Voting Centres, Harass Voters
Pro-regime armed groups known locally as colectivos armados [“armed groups”] attacked at least two voting centres: one in Merida state and one in Miranda state.
In Merida state, a colectivo threw a tear gas canister at a line of electors at the Mucumbarilla voting centre in the town of Ejido at approximately 6:30 PM. About an hour later, a group of approximately 50 motorized colectivo members were still active in the area.
In Guarenas, Miranda state, a colectivo surrounded the Ambrosio Plaza school voting centre near noon. The group was made up of approximately 30 individuals on motorcycles.
Colectivos armados are an important tool of the Maduro regime’s toolbox of repression. They were responsible for killing at least 27 people during the protests that took place in the country between April and July of this year.
Regime Mounts Relentless Propaganda Campaign Throughout the Day
Gerardo Blyde, the electoral campaign chief at the MUD, updated the press early this morning on the day’s developments, focusing primarily on the fact that the regime was broadcasting political advertisements for PSUV candidates in a blatant violation of electoral law.
Venezuelan electoral law prohibits political advertisements outside of the official campaign period, which includes the day of the election.
Blyde told reporters:
They’re broadcasting messages in favour of the [PSUV] candidates and against the opposition candidates. The campaign is over, [which makes this] an improper, abusive and illegal use of media.
Blyde also said that on average, voting centres did not open at 6:00 AM as mandated by law, but rather between 6:45 and 7:15 AM. He said that one of the reasons why many of the country’s centres did not open was that regime electoral observers did not show up to their centres.
At around the noon hour, one of the rectors from the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE), Luis Emilio Rondon, spoke to reporters on the regime’s continued running of political advertisements throughout the day. Rondon singled out the state-owned VTV network, saying that it was “regrettable” that the network was so blatantly violating the law. Rondon said:
It is regrettable that Venezolana de Television [VTV] is committing an infraction on this election day when we’re nearly at the halfway point of the day, which has been unfolding normally.
Maduro: Elections are “Triumph” for Democracy
Maduro spoke in the early afternoon on the developing elections, calling them a “total triumph” for democracy in Venezuela. Maduro also said that “not a single” problem had affected today’s vote, in plain defiance of widespread reports of electoral irregularities from around the country.
On the meaning of the election for the country, Maduro said:
We Venezuelans are showing the world that we are living in a full democracy. All of the campaigning by those groups that want sanctions and aggression has been demolished. Everyone who voted has done so for the image and prestige of their country.
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