Archive for February 26th, 2004

CNE Directors: Rectify by Teodoro Petkoff

February 26, 2004


Once again, today’s Tal Cual Editorial which expands on some of the things I said yesterday about Dr. Rodriguez’ statements and asks the CNE to reconsider (the boldface is Tal Cual’s emphasis):


CNE Director Jorge Rodríguez affirmed yesterday that no regulations for the petition for the recall referendum had been modified after they were issued. This is not true. The resolution by the CNE by which the regulations were issued and named “Regulations to regulate the recall referendum processes to revoke the mandates of popularly elected positions” was approved on September 25th. 2003 and appeared published in the Electoral Gazette on September 26th. In it, there is no reference to the forms with the same calligraphy for the data of those signing the petition. In November, on a date as yet not specified, a directive was approved aimed at the observers of the process of gathering the signatures, which were persons appointed by the CNE and should have followed the instructions. In these instructions, in its second page, there is a note that says:” Important: The data in the form for gathering signatures mentioned before, should be registered by the person signing, after the presentation of the national ID card (even if it has expired) in front of the agent collecting the signatures”.

This note alters substantially Article 29 of said regulations which in its number 5 establishes that a signature will be invalidated “if it is determined that the same signature comes from the same person”. Neither in that article nor in any other article of the same, there is even the slightest mention to the effect that the signatures for which the data is not filled by the person signing will be invalidated. This directive changed in November, a rule of the game issued in September. Or not, Dr. Rodríguez? It is also true and should be said, that the CNE Published in Ultimas Noticias (a local newspaper) the day before and during the two first days of both petition drives, a full page ad, with instruction for those signing , which in its part 5 said: “You should fill the form with your data”. But this is even worse: The same days of the signature collection, those signing were informed of a rule, which had never been mentioned previously.

On the other hand, the resolution about “Norms to regulate the activities of the CNE observers…and of the collection agents…”, approved on October 30th. 2003, obligates the “observers” in part E of section 4 to “Be present in the signature collection and to note the observations that may arise according to the terms included in article 25 of “the regulations to regulate the recall referendum processes to revoke the mandates of popularly elected positions” Since no Director of the CNE has informed us that the CNE observers had noted any observations during the filling of the “planas” (forms with the same calligraphy), it should be presumed that none of them considered worthy of mention any observation about such “planas”. That article 25 establishes that “The CNE observers will limit their role to be present at the gathering of the signatures…and sign and fill out the cover form …with its pertinent observations if there were any”

Apparently there were none, because as we said before, there are no cover sheets of the forms with observations referring to the “planas”. The observers, despite the directive, did not consider anomalous the filing out of the data on the part of those collecting the signatures. Or did they Dr. Rodríguez? If it was a mistake by the “observers”, can the CNE argue in its own decision its own errors and punish the citizens that were signing?


Even worse, the changes in the rules of the game were not participated by those most interest in it: those collecting the signatures. The directive was only for CNE employees. For the others there was no directive that would remind them about the supposed obligation of informing those signing that they had to fill the data themselves.

Was it simply carelessness? For those collecting the signatures, article 8, part B of the “Norms” of October 30th. establishes the following responsibility:

“Inform each elector that subscribes the form for collecting the signatures, about the data in the same and that is has manifested his/her will to sign and ask for the laminated ID card even if it has expired”.

As you can see, the signature collector was responsible only of informing the person signing about the data he/she had to provide (national ID number, First name, Last name and birthdate), but there was no indication that the person had to fill in such data in the form. Where the law or the regulations say nothing, the interpreter can not substitute his/her own particular opinion. Even more, the article talks about “The person that subscribes”, it means the “person that signs”, because that is precisely what the verb”to subscribe means.

It is evident that those that drafted the “Norms” had in their minds that what gives value and validity is the signature of those signing, not the mere data of his/her identity.


A failed act is what this is called by the psychiatry colleagues of Dr. Rodriguez.


On the other hand, Jorge Rodríguez said that the CNE could consider the possibility that a statistical sampling may be performed, but then “they should propose it”


Why doesn’t the CNE, of motu propio, appeal to this solution, which was suggested by the OAS and the Carter Center? Rodríguez extended himself on considerations about sample size and “admissible statistical error”, but went over the “little detail” that the CNE, if it wants to really search for solutions could design, without the need to hire a Noble Prize in Mathematics(??), the sampling that it considers ideal, with a margin of error that is compatible with the confidence in the procedure.

This should be the behavior of a body that tries to facilitate the exercise of a right of the citizens, not block it. The CNE has to rectify and society has the right to request it.