Archive for August 14th, 2005

Electoral Musings: How about those null votes!

August 14, 2005

Even though Daniel
is the Electoral blogger expert, I have tried all week to understand
the results from last Sunday’s municipal elections, without much luck.
Then today the CNE announces
that data on its website is just wrong, which certainly does not help.
No explanation to how this happened, but an institution that first told
us in real time how many people had voted, then took almost day to give
us results, has now taken a week to “straighten them out”, or at least
tell us that they are not correct. So much for transparency!

problems began last week when the CNE announced abstention was 69.2% ,
so I quickly calculated that 4.37 million people had voted for someone.
But the numbers did not make much sense even then. Chavez’ MVR had
received 1.3 million slate votes, which was only 30% of the total vote,
not the higher numbers (38%) being announced by that party’s leaders
and colorfully shown in the CNE’s website.
Even harder to understand was that MVR had only obtained the votes of
only 9.1% of possible voters. So much for Chavez’ popularity. But that
was the truth. Even with the extra three hours, which are questionable
from a legal point of view, in which reportedly 481 thousand people
voted, Chavez’ MVR had only obtained 9.1 % of the votes of all eligible
voters. I would be worried if i were them The revolution seems to be
running out of gas.

the numbers still did not make sense until it was announced that of the
4.3 million votes, 766 thousand and were null or voided. How do you explain that? So far I have not heard a single good explanation, from the CNE, the Government or the opposition..

see, in order to have your vote voided or nullified there were only two
ways of doing it. One, don’t vote for anyone and press the “Vote”
button. Two, wait three minutes, don’t vote, ask for an extension,
three minutes go by, still no vote. While the second option was
proposed by some as a better one than abtaining, as it required those
manning the polls to register it as a null vote, I heard nobody mention
that this actually happened in large numbers. At 766 thousand null
votes, this was roughly 38 per voting machine and most machines had
about one to two hundred voters, so it would have been quite noticeable
if this had happened. None of the people manning the tables that I
talked to, said this was the case in their machine.

So, what is the explanation for these 766 thousand votes? To
think that a number of people which is equivalent to 57% of the people
that voted for Chavez’ party, decided to vote for nobody, seems truly
amazing. It would make them instantly the second largest political
force, or at least voting political force in the country.

you see, Venezuelans are well known for their “economy” of the vote.
Venezuelans hate to lose a vote, which sometimes has led them to vote
for the “winner” just so that they could say they did. In fact, in the
vote to recall Chavez in which 9.8 million people voted, only 26,000
votes were voided, thirty times fewer than in this election, but less
than half the number of people went to vote this time
around compared to the recall vote. Strange, no? All of a sudden we
have a “silent almost majority” that sponteusly decides to vote the
same way.

the problem is technical. But you see, once you voted the machine would
print up your vote so that you were sure that it registered your wish,
so if there was a technical glitch, people would have realized that
something was not working properly. And at least one machine per voting
center was counted manually.

God forbid, we could suggest some form of electronic/software
conspiracy to allow the data to “fit” the desires of the Government.
Like pollster Alfredo Keller who voted for an acquaintance for
citycouncil, saw the printout was correct, but that candidate got no
votes at that poll booth.Or maybe that would explain how Carmen Lopez,
Haydee Delgado and Marlene Carpio, received no votes in their attempts
to get elected as councilwomen of Petare, despite the fact that they
assure us that their family voted for them, but in any case they are
sure they voted for themselves. But their votes are nowhere to be
found. They got zero votes (0), each and everyone of them. Explain that
Jimmy Carter! These three ladies were candidates for the infamous
Tupamaros party, who after protesting all week of being robbed,
received a direct warning from one of their leaders, that
anyone accusing the Government of fraud would be disciplined, proving
that despite its claims to now be a democratic organization, it
maintains its strict militarist and hierarchical structure. Unless, of
course, somebody got to them (money?), but how can I even think of that
in this so ethical revolution.

it has been the Tupamaros that have been so far in the middle of this
sea of null votes. In Aragua, the Tupamaros claim they won 5 positions
in the Negro Primero district, but somehow their votes disappeared as
the null ones went up and they got none, talk about being nullified!.
They denounced the same in Aragua and Sucre States.

opposition did not do well either, that is very clear. But it does not
help when half of it is calling for people not to go and vote. Primero
Justicia only got 144 thousand votes nationwide, but they were focused
on only a few municipalities most of which they won control of. Rosales
in Zulia did very well, capturing 68% of all councilmen in Zulia by
using the same unethical and illegal “morochas” that Chavez and UVE
did. Some will argue that all is fair in love and war. I will argue
that if it takes a thief to beat a thief, I may always be in the
opposition if this is what it takes to get rid of Chavez.

is the table with the electoral results taken from Tal Cual, which I am
sure, can not vouch for them. Unfortunately, neither can the Electoral
Board (CNE). So much for US$ 130 million spent in voting machines
to make the process cleaner and transparent. We know as much (or as
little) today as we did when the voting was manual. Except that then we
could see and count the votes, each and every one of them. Go figure!