English | News | 29 octubre 2012

Venezuela Election Commission again gives preferential treatment to PSUV candidates

Venezuela Electoral Commission Director Socorro Hernandez

As you may or not know, during the audits of the electoral “notebooks” (voter registry or voter rolls) for upcoming Gubernatorial elections, the opposition discovered that 108 voters were moved from one voting center (polling place) to another. In particular, the changes include six candidates for governor selected by President Hugo Chávez (who failed to recognize that these candidates do not reside in the state where they are now running for governor).

Approved and implemented by the Venezuela National Electoral Council (Consejo Nacional Electoral, CNE), the move includes relatives of the six candidates and even more curiously the recently appointed vice president of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro who only recently changed his registration to the state of Carabobo, given that Chávez said he would be the candidate there. Now, however, he apparently no longer wants the hassle of having to go vote there since he is now the vice president.

You see, according to Venezuela’s electoral rules, the electoral registry was only open for changes until April 16 of this year. These same regulations also indicate that the October 7 presidential election as well as upcoming regional elections (including those for governor) would take place using that registry and that it may not be changed, altered or modified before both elections have occurred. Therefore, Maduro had to hurry and change his registration so that he would be voting in the same state for which he was running for governor. Little did he know that Chávez had another position in mind for him.

It is important to note that while changing voter registration information for anyone on the voter rolls is illegal according to current election regulations, it is not illegal to be a candidate or to be elected governor in a state where you are not registered (voter registration is a national affair in Venezuela, unlike the state-by-state registration used in the United States). The Chávez government and his puppet Election Commission are not attempting to have candidates run where they are not legally allowed; they are merely attempting to placate potential popular discontent with supporting a candidate who is not from the state he hopes to govern.

The explanation for this change by the Electoral Commission Director Socorro Hernández is simply without merit. It clearly demonstrates that under President Chávez, some citizens have more rights than others. Hernández indicated that, “We had to make the changes so that the candidates of PSUV and their teams could exercise their right to vote, so they could go and vote with their mothers, with their family.”

From an opposition perspective, Hernandez seems to have a short and biased memory. During the presidential elections, she did not seem to be worried about the right to vote of thousands of Venezuelans who had their voting center arbitrarily moved from Miami to New Orleans (due to the closing of Venezuela’s consulate there), a distance which is from two to ten times larger than that which will separate PSUV candidates and families from their voting center. The CNE, including Hernández, never even attempted to find an alternate location to hold the vote in Miami, so that each and every one of the more than 20,000 voters there could “exercise their right to vote”.

It seems unlikely that any opposition candidate or family member would receive the same special treatment. As the Election Commission demonstrately aptly throughout the presidential election campaign, any election-related complaint from the opposition is flatly ignored or openly ridiculed by the electoral body. For proper and legal treatment by the Election Commission, only chavistas need apply. Chavistas seem to be the only first class citizens in today’s Venezuela. So much for equality under the Bolivarian revolution!

To make matters worse, the move was made in secret, with no public announcement or acknowledgement until they were called out for it. I imagine that the CNE simply hoped that nobody would be watching and that nobody would notice. To their credit, however, opposition voter registry auditors discovered the change quickly and the heavily Chávez-leaning Election Commission was caught red-handed.

Note: The text above was edited liberally from the original article posted at the Devil’s Excrement blog. The text below is edited liberally from two original posts at Caracas Chronicles.

Venezuelan Election Commission magic tricks

Six of Hugo Chávez’ candidates for governor in the December 16, 2012 regional elections have something in common–besides being chosen directly by the president: They are not residents of the states where they were selected to run as candidates. In fact, they couldn’t even vote for themselves in December as the electoral registry is legally bound to be the same one used for the presidential election on October 7.

What’s that you say? Those same candidates now can vote in their new states. Voilà!

As a matter of fact, 108 “special re-allocations” were made to the electoral rolls outside of the established legal period. Socorro Hernández, one of the five Venezuela Election Commission heads–and former Chávez government minister–justified the move as “an extraordinary case that has no impact”, all the while dismissing all criticism of the illegal and preferential change.

But this particular trick wasn’t familiar to fellow CNE board member Vicente Díaz and the opposition alliance is demanding that the changes be reverted. That seems unlikely, however, as PSUV candidates (and their friends and families) clearly have more rights than other Venezuelan voters.

Yesterday, CNE Director Socorro Hernández fully revealed herself as the partisan hack she really is. She went on camera to, basically, say that the CNE can do what it wants and flaunt the law if it so desires and that changing the voting centers of certain chavista political leaders is of no importance to the Venezuelan voter.

Hernández’ behavior is atrocious. She not only breaks the law, but she gloats about it. She is abrasive, corrupt, abusive, unfair, and hyper-partisan. But she shows us her cards as if she were a dead fly, spewing out words like “Constitution” and “institutions” as if they mean anything to her.

The Chávez game plan now seems quite clear. The goal of chavistas like Hernández and the CNE is to make Venezuelans feel like the act of voting is really useless, that we might as well stay home.

A few days ago, I wondered what the opposition could do to motivate disappointed Venezuelans to go out and cast their vote on December 16th. Now I know. They should distribute Hernández’ photograph as campaign material with the heading: “If you don’t vote, she wins! If you don’t vote, she gets what she wants!”

Note: The issue was also covered by the Venezuelan newspaper El Universal on their English language page:

Electoral official: “Changes in voting centers are irregular”

Venezuela Election Commission shows its true color

The National Electoral Council (CNE) allowed pro-government candidates running for governors to change their polling centers after the corresponding deadline.

President of the Political Participation and Financing Committee of the National Electoral Council (CNE) Vicente Díaz said on Thursday that the recent change of polling centers for six candidates for governor’s offices, who are nominated by ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), is “absolutely irregular.”

Díaz stated that such situation is “part of the obstacles the democratic society must surmount so as to restore the balance of powers that is pivotal for the existence of the republic.”

An audit of the voting rolls to be used in the gubernatorial election next December 16 revealed that candidates Aristóbulo Istúriz, José Gregorio Vielma Mora, Yelitze Santaella, Tareck El Aissami, Erika Farías and Ramón Rodríguez Chacín registered to vote in voting locations different from the ones they had in October 7 presidential election. The change came despite the fact that the official period set to modify the register of voters of the National Electoral Council (CNE) in this electoral year expired last April 15.

Díaz claimed there is no excuse for the decision made by the CNE Civil and Electoral Register Committee.

Although Venezuelan daily newspaper El Universal has requested authorities to provide information on this issue, an official statement has not been given issued.

Original article by Eugenio Martinez at El Universal