Archive for December 14th, 2003

Checking the signatures, the flu and Saddam

December 14, 2003


The flu has kept me from blogging this weekend, but not from spending a couple of hours helping verify the petition signatures. Very interesting process, an all volunteer force shows up at whenever time they want to verify at the 200 computers (I would bet there were even some 486ís there). You are shown a screen with four digitized national id numbers from the petitions, you type in the numbers that you think you are seeing (More on that later) and click on continue. The data, as digitized with the handwritten name of the person and his/her birthdate as written on the form, is then presented to you in a new screen for the same four id numbers as the previous screen, with a comparison to the database from the Consejo Nacional Electoral, If the name and the birthdate agree, you accept it. The criteria to accept are that at least two names should be the same and the birthdate should match, admitting both formats dd/mm/yyyy or mm/dd/yyyy. As per the CNE criteria you are allowed to accept up to a two year difference on the yyyy, but no difference on the day and month. You are told that when in doubt is better to reject a signature, than accept it. You had to click on the reason for rejection. In the first screen there were two reasons, illegible or crossed out (Whenever and error was made on a form, that line was crossed out). In the second screen you would reject on the basis of name difference or date difference or illegible. I was really concentrating on the work, so I did not keep statistics of rejections, but my guess is that I was running at an 8-15% rejection clip. The biggest reason for rejections was simply peopleís handwriting; there were many confusions between 4í and 9ís, 3ís and 5ís and some 1ís and 7ís. The second reason was bad quality in the digitization, the third was a funny one, many people born in the 70ís appear as having been born in October, when they were born a different month. If it was illegible, you would say so and it will be processed separately. If there was no agreement it will be verified again manually too. As of yesterday 2.33 million valid signatures had been verified. With more than one million left, by Wednesday the process should be complete and then the petition can be handed in.


Since I have terrible handwriting, I canít complain about how badly people write, but I think they were quite careless sometimes. Numbers were sometimes small, difficult to distinguish, unreadable. The names were many times written in cursive, or very small letters, making it difficult to distinguish. In general, it was the birthdate that was easiest to check. I processed 450 in less than two hours, but got up once to look for someone about a case there were no rules about. Have no clue about whether this is low or high or average. The whole thing is very well organized.


As for the flu, it is doing quite well, I am not; I had actually gotten a flu shot about two weeks ago, so I probably feel better than I would otherwise. I do have to mention Saddam, what can I say but it will help closure in Iraq. Chavez did not mention anything about it in his Sunday speech, but I canít help but remind everyone of this event when Hugo Chavez became the first Head of State in the world  to visit Saddam Hussein after the 1990 Gulf war in 1999. As usual, a picture is worth 10,000 words: