Despite a high level of election transparency, one that Jimmy Carter called “the best in the world”, the US and its allies have accused Venezuela of election fraud. Caleb Maupin breaks down how Venezuela’s electoral system really works.
by Caleb T. Maupin
Part 2 - A high level of transparency – “The Best in the World”
The Venezuelan government goes out of its way to ensure electoral participation and transparency. Article 63 of the Bolivarian Constitution says: “Suffrage is a right. It is exercised through free, universal, direct and secret ballots. The law will guarantee the principle of individuality of suffrage and proportional representation.”
In Venezuela, the vote is held on a weekend in order to ensure that people do not miss out on the opportunity to vote because they have to work.
Citizens register to vote with their thumbprints, so that no one can vote claiming to be someone else. Poll close at 6 p.m.; however, if even a single line of people remains, polls are required to remain open until every citizen has had an opportunity to cast his or her ballot.
Venezuelan law also stipulates that there must be one voting center for every 500 residents.
People who have been convicted of crimes are permitted to vote in Venezuela after being released from prison, and only those currently serving sentences are disenfranchised. The National Elections Center (CNE) arranges for voting machines to be set up in jails so that those being detained or awaiting trial can vote.
An electronic tally is taken by the voting machines, but each voter receives a printed receipt showing who they voted for. The printed receipts are collected, and 53 percent of the country’s voting centers undergo official audit to assure that the printed receipts match the numbers of the electronic tally after the polls close.
The audits are held publicly, and observers from political parties must sign the audits to confirm they were legitimate. Venezuela is the only country in the world to have a public audit of the vote on Election Night.
International bodies that have previously monitored Venezuelan elections have said their results are legitimate. In 2012, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, director of the Carter Center for Fair Elections, which oversaw the Venezuela polls, declared: “As a matter of fact, of the 92 elections that we’ve monitored, I would say the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world.”
A number of international observers were on hand during the May 20 election and declared the results to be legitimate.