#AbusoPoder | #NoalVentajismo | English | News | 15 abril 2013

Electoral Fraud in Venezuela’s Presidential Elections

An electoral fraud primer for Venezuela’s presidential elections.

Violations and fraud mark Venezuelan presidential elections

Violations and fraud mark Venezuelan presidential elections

That fact that the 2013 presidential election in Venezuela was completely anti-democratic was underlined by the absolute lack of interest by the State to even fake its democratic credentials.

Therefore, what I have done below is simply to list the violations and anti-democratic practices plaguing the presidential campaign as well as election day. I have divided the points in two sections: 1) Direct material election fraud, and 2) Abuse of power and anti-democratic election system:

Direct Material Election Fraud

1) Assisted Vote (voto asistido): This election rigging practice occurred when perfectly healthy and capable voters were accompanied to the voting machine by voting station officials to pressure the voter and make certain that they voted for candidate Nicolas Maduro. This election violation could have influenced thousands of votes.

2) Operation “Drag” (operación remolque): This election practice consists of “dragging” late or reluctant voters to the polls late on election day. One can argue, of course, that get out the vote (GOTV) operations–in and of themselves–are not illegal. However, the fact that the Maduro campaign utilized State funds, vehicles, the armed forces and police to get out its voters constitutes an undeniable election violation. Henrique Capriles, of course, was not able to benefit from State transportation to motivate his late day GOTV efforts.

3) Overseas Vote: This abusive election practice occurred when Venezuelan embassies overseas did not allow citizens to register to vote and/or made it very difficult for Venezuelan citizens to vote. A case in point is the closing of the embassy in Miami (USA), thereby forcing the largest overseas Venezuelan community to travel to New Orleans (18 hours by bus) to cast their vote. Estimates indicate that if the Miami embassy had remained open, Capriles would have received an additional 15,000 votes. In Calgary, Canada an additional 2,000.

There were other election rigging practices in place yesterday, but let’s move on to those having to do with the abuse of State media and resources.

Abuse of Power and Anti-democratic Election System

The following practices make up part of the unequal election environment in Venezuela, principally as a result of the polarized and preferential behaviour of the Venezuelan National Election Commission (Consejo Nacional Electoral, CNE).

4) Enforcement Delays: The opposition candidate and many civil society organizations made complaints of election violations to the Election Commission. However, the time taken to respond to these complaints (if at all) is often exaggerated, and almost always too late to curtail the alleged (and usually documented) violation. For example, the Election Commission took several hours to respond to complaints of election violations on election day, April 14.

5) Absence of Election Law Enforcement: This election rigging practice was flagrant, documented and excessive in the 2013 presidential campaign. The Venezuelan Election Commission simply refused to sanction electoral violations and other abuses committed openly by the Nicolas Maduro campaign and the Venezuelan State. Particularly noteworthy is the massive abuse of State media in the campaign period, wherein the State television channel Venezuelan Television (VTV) dedicated 65 hours to Maduro campaign events and only 23 minutes to those of opposition candidate Henrique Capriles.

On the contrary, accusations against opposition campaign violations are processed by the Election Commission rapidly. For example, in the recently concluded campaign, the Election Commission banned several pro-Capriles messages broadcast by Venezuelan civil society organizations while it never inhibited the consistent abuse of State media.

6) State-sanctioned Election Calendar: In the past three years, all elections in Venezuela have been held when convenient for the State and its candidates. A counter-example is that of Venezuela’s municipal council elections, now four years overdue. As these elections were not of strategic importance to Venezuelan State officials, they have been delayed indefinitely. Presidential election calendars for October 2012 and April 2013, however, were clearly orchestrated to coincide with the political aspirations of Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro respectively.

This election rigging practice is, of course, difficult to measure or demonstrate objectively. Regardless, the psychological and strategic importance of determining the election calendar cannot be denied. This sort of abuse gives the State candidate an undeniable advantage in the election campaign.

This cursory explanation of the abuse, violations and outright fraud in Venezuela’s presidential elections is not complete. It does not, for example, even begin to address the threats received by government employees to vote for Maduro or the obvious buying of votes via populist vote-buying initiatives.

Whether these election rigging practices were enough to sway 230,000 votes is yet to be determined. However, should the Venezuelan National Election Commission and Supreme Court refuse to mandate a full recount of votes cast on April 14, the world will never know the true winner of these important presidential elections in Venezuela.

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Based on an article from Venezuela News & Views