Tibisay Lucena, the head of the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE), spoke before the Constituent Assembly today in defense of her organization as allegations of electoral fraud from the Venezuelan opposition and international governments continue to pour in.
Lucena–who has headed the regime’s electoral arm since 2006–said that Sunday’s gubernatorial elections were “a success” that demonstrated the robustness of Venezuela’s electoral system. Lucena said:
The process was impeccably organized and was conducted in peace (…) we are fully assured of the cleanliness and purity of the election’s results.
During her speech at the Constituent Assembly, Lucena did not specifically address any of the concerns raised by the opposition regarding the integrity of the electoral system, including the fact that voting centres were moved just hours prior to the election and that the PSUV was allowed to engage in political campaigning through television and radio on election day.
Instead, Lucena replied directly to a comment by European Union spokesperson Catherine Ray in which she called on the CNE to prove the transparency of Sunday’s vote through a full audit of the results. On Ray’s comments, Lucena said:
She called on the Consejo Nacional Electoral to demonstrate transparency, and beyond that calls for a publication of the audit. This is surprising. If it weren’t for the consequences that this person’s assertions might have, [the comment] might be considered funny (…) [the comment] was made, as I have said, based on a blatant lie or ignorance, because the electoral results were published 30 minutes after the results were announced before the media.
Without getting into details, Lucena made broad generalizations about electoral systems–presumably in Europe–which she feels are inferior to the one that she controls:
It never ceases to amaze me how countries that dream about having a system as robust and transparent as the Venezuelan electoral system are not calling for audits, when in their countries they don’t do or allow them, and they are electoral system that are tremendously fragile.
Hard Evidence of Electoral Fraud Surfaces in Bolivar State
When the CNE announced the winners of gubernatorial election on Sunday night, it left out one state: Bolivar. According to Lucena, the race in the state was too close to call. Yesterday, Maduro announced in a televised address that Justo Noguera, the PSUV candidate in the state, had in fact beaten his opposition opponent, Andres Velasquez, calling the state for the ruling party.
Today, National Assembly deputy Enrique Marquez presented evidence on his Twitter account that demonstrates that the CNE committed fraud in reporting the results in the state. The evidence came via official election audit forms prepared by the CNE that confirms the number of votes registered at several voting centres.
According to one of the official CNE forms, one of the state’s voting centres had registered 138 votes for Noguera by the time that the voting centre closed. However, the official results on the CNE website show that the same voting centre registered 400 votes for Noguera, meaning that the PSUV candidate won an inexplicable 262 votes between the time that the voting centre closed and the time that the CNE updated its website.
Below, Marquez’s tweet showing the unexplained discrepancy between the CNE website figures (left) and the actual figures recorded on the audit form:
In other tweets, deputy Marquez showed evidence from other voting centres in the state showing inexplicable differences between audit forms and the CNE website. For example, in the Heres municipality, Velasquez “lost” 78 votes, while Noguera “won” 317; in another, Noguera “won” an extra 243 votes.
The evidence presented by deputy Marquez is the most concrete as of yet proving that the CNE committed fraud during Sunday’s vote. The strength of Marquez’s evidence is based primarily on the fact that both sources of information–both the voting centre audit forms and the results published on the website–are the same: the CNE.
The CNE claims that Noguera won Bolivar state by 1,471 votes. In total, the CNE website shows that Noguera won 2,066 more votes than all of the ballots cast as per all of the audit forms printed in the state.
In response to the surfacing of this evidence, Velasquez has called on opposition supporters in Bolivar state to take to the streets and protest starting at 8:00 AM tomorrow.
Electoral Group Publishes List of Problems with Sunday’s Vote
Sumate, an elections-monitoring group staffed by civilian volunteers, issued a brief report this afternoon outlining some of the irregularities that marked Sunday’s gubernatorial vote. The report contains 15 points, which I have summarized below:
- The elections should have taken place before the end of the year in 2016, in accordance to constitutional term limits set on governors.
- Despite this fact, the announced on October 18 of last year that the election would take place in the first half of 2017.
- On May 23 of this year, the CNE agreed to finally hold the election on December 10, 2017. That date was moved on August 12.
- When it agreed to move the gubernatorial election to October 15 at the command of Maduro’s Constituent Assembly, the CNE excluded elections for mayors and state legislatures. These elections should all have taken place at the same time.
- The CNE withheld the actual date of the gubernatorial election for over a month, only announcing it on September 11, barely a month before the vote.
- In violation of electoral law, the CNE did not publish the full electoral schedule on the same day that it announced the vote, instead waiting three days to do so.
- By September 15, the CNE had announced three different dates for the gubernatorial election: October 15, October 25, and October 26. It was not clear at this point which date was the real one.
- The CNE violated electoral law when it set the deadlines for announcing and amending candidacies.
- Contrary to an earlier statement, the CNE only gave candidates a three-day window for officially registering to run in the election, when it had previously agreed to give them an entire month.
- The regional electoral councils–each tasked with overseeing the vote in their respective states–were created “ad hoc” when they should have been made of randomly-assigned electors, as per electoral law.
- The CNE only gave municipal electoral organizations two days to prepare for the vote, when it should have given them five days according to its own schedule.
- The CNE prohibited electors selected in March of last year from joining regional electoral councils, in violation of electoral law.
- The CNE “made difficult and prevented” the addition of voters to the electoral roll, a move that Sumate estimates disenfranchised up to 1,000,000 voters.
- The CNE took active steps to make it difficult or impossible to add names to or otherwise update the electoral roll.
- The CNE did not appoint electors to staff the organization’s electoral machinery at the regional level in violation of electoral law.
The report ends by pointing out that its 15 points are not exhaustive, and that the CNE committed other irregularities in the conduct of the vote, such as preventing the MUD from running its candidates on a unified ballot.
The full report can be found here, in Spanish.
Sumate was started by Maria Corina Machado, an opposition figure and head of the Vente Venezuela party.
Explosion Rocks Military Facility in Aragua State
An explosion tore though a facility belonging to the Compañía Anónima Venezolana de Industrias Militares (CAVIM), a state-owned corporation that operates as part of the Venezuelan army’s logistical arm. The facility is located in the western edge of Maracay, the capital of Aragua state.
While the cause of the explosion is not yet known, the detonation was strong enough to break windows in near-by buildings. The explosion also sent a large plume of smoke into the air, a seen in the image below:
A kindergarten near the facility was evacuated after the explosion. There were no reports of injuries.
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