Protecting The Votes in Venezuela Part I: The Evolution Of The Electoral Registry

August 13, 2012

Last week I was invited to the Comando Venezuela to see what they have been doing about insuring the votes for the opposition are counted in the Oct.7th. Presidential election and that only votes that should be counted are part of the results. The person I talked to has been involved with many of the statistical studies done up to now but you could say that his role today is that of auditing all processes going forward, insuring that things are done, that the quality of the work done is a good one and coming up with tests for all these processes.

As you walk through the halls of the comando, the walls are covered with maps of all states, showing critical voting centers, ranked according to their importance. These maps are more than decoration, while I waited to be met, twice people went up to them to talk or discuss some point about them.

The Comando Venezuela has been working on essentially three fronts to guarantee a clean election on October 7th., these three main areas have been the subject of a lot of work (there is some overlap):

1) The cleaningness of the Electoral Registry

2) The voting system and the new fingerprint system

3) Protecting the vote on October 7th.

In this first part, I will discuss their study of the evolution of the Electoral Registry since the 2010 National Assembly election and what this shows. You can find the presentation for this part here.

The first concern is how the electoral registry has evolved, whether it makes sense or not. Below is the table for the evolution since the last election (which the opposition won numerically).

Clearly, it makes sense that 86.6% of new voters registered are under 25. There has been a request from the CNE for more information about the newly registered people in the over 40 group, some 40 thousand voters, which has yet to be satisfied. However, for those that believe that the Electoral registry is a mystery of sorts, political parries receive monthly data about the newly registered voters and migrations.

The data of newly registered voters has been examined to see its consistency. For example, below you can see the distribution of new voters and changes in voting center distributed according to socio-economic level, showing that there are more new voters in the poorer strata of the population, which is consistent with birth rates 20 years ago. :

In terms of migrations, close to 1.7 million people requested a change in his or her voting center. A study was made of the patterns of these migrations, the summary is shown in the table below:

The data was found to be consistent in terms of migrations, most of them occurring between centers which are similar in terms of socio-economic characteristics. But more importantly, a random telephone poll found that 97% of those that had migrated, had requested the migration and those errors in the migrations (or those whose center had been closed) did not appear to have any political bias in terms of who they affected, that is, both pro-Government and position voters were affected by it. Finally, during the opposition primaries in February, the Electoral Registry was used and there was no evidence of involuntary migration affecting voters.

There are two problems that have yet to be cleared up in the Electoral Registry. First, there continues to be roughly 18 thousand id’s associated to 9 thousand people and dead people have not been removed sufficiently fast from it. Both these issues are being discussed with the CNE and particularly the first on is expected to be solved before October 7th.

The Catholic University has made a study of the registry and has found that it is consistent with the population. The only inconsistency is that of an over representation of the group above 70 years of age, which I already noted.

All in all, the Comando Venezuela believes that with adequate, well prepared witnesses at the tables, the areas of concern with the Electoral Registry can be minimized and the vote  affected by it in only minimal fashion. This is the main thrusts of point 3) in this discussion which I will try to present before the end of this week.

54 Responses to “Protecting The Votes in Venezuela Part I: The Evolution Of The Electoral Registry”

  1. Andres F Says:

    “Los chinos no hablaban ni su nombre en español sólo decían “Yo Chávez” — y el que dijo esto sabra decir su nombre en chino? jaja

  2. Charles Says:

    Quote of the day: (Six Chinese workers were injured in VZ-
    “Los seis chinos que resultaron heridos al desplomarse una segunda grúa en Ciudad Tiuna fueron atendidos de emergencia en la Clínica Attias. ¿Por qué no los llevaron al Hospitalito o a los CDI?. El pago corrió por cuenta de MinDefensa”-Runrunnes-today.
    Here’s the quote-

    “Los chinos no hablaban ni su nombre en español sólo decían “Yo Chávez”

  3. island canuck Says:


    Well he just lost another slew of votes.

    In 2009 the central government took over control from the local states all national roads & bridges.

    Around 5.30 PM tonight the bridge at Cúpira collapsed reportedly due to lack of maintenance. This bridge was the main connection between Caracas & the the Eastern part of the country – the route that most tourists take to get to Isla Margarita via Puerto La Cruz.

    According to news reports & photos from the scene the route is completely blocked & won’t be reparable in the near future.

    Great job A..H…!

    • Roy Says:

      The pictures speak for themselves, and the comments are a reflection of the true level of frustration and disgust of the population at this Government.

    • island canuck Says:

      Forgot to mention that at the time of the bridge collapse the small town of Cúpira had been without electricity for 3 days.

      • Gringo Says:

        Couldn’t the Army Corps of Engineers put up a temporary pontoon bridge in less than a week?
        That is to say, a competent Army Corps of Engineers.

  4. syd Says:

    Somewhat OT: In the event anyone else is interested … I so enjoyed listening to the interview of CapR. The link includes some clips from the Buenas Noches program, last night.

    • NET Says:

      Syd, this was an excellent program, and certainly Capriles will be an excellent President (what a contrast with the unbelievable-by Western standards-President/Leaders that Venezuela currently has!!!).

  5. Kepler Says:

    Miguel, it seems indeed like statistically significant, those 14000. The only doubt I still have is: how come the reviewers ‘managed to contact’ those 14000 out of the 70000 universe? Can the difficulties in contacting them show no particular pattern but that one could not fin their phone numbers?

    If so, indeed that should be OK.

    Now, you mentioned the duplicates

    It’s people like these ones, as I mentioned in my blog:

    Now the CNE has been modifying those records lately and new names with “no suspicious anything” appear where the Doppelgänger was. Is there an explanation of how they can “correct” that to these new people?

    And as I said: those are cases we can easily detect if we just run a tiny tool or prepare the query to retrieve all people with same full name and same birth day, but very likely that was a minor and very stupid flaw they had. They could as easily have generated records with different birthdays and there is no easy way to verify that. That they did this should give us reason to concern.

    In any case, what we now have to do is to launch an open petition for people from the very urban centres to help in whatever they can in the voting centres that are not covered OUTSIDE their areas and that in a statistically clever way.

    I cannot stress this enough. I was a witness in Tocuyito, Southwest of Valencia, during the Firmazo. I helped in other areas in Guacara.
    I have relatives and friends around Carabobo, Lara and a couple of other states who are very active in the electoral process for the opposition.
    They do a lot of work: when they are not in the voting centres in those hard areas, they go out and use their own cars to transport lots of people they don’t even know to vote.
    Still in 2010 we were heavily under-represented in such places as Southern Valencia, even in Miguel Pena, where the opposition makes up 46% of the population now (but people there are still “cómodas” or afraid or whatever.
    In Northern Valencia and San Diego we have witnesses for every single
    centre an for every mesa and we have helpers and helpers’ helpers.

    So now we need to send a message: make yourself useful WHERE it matters the most, don’t be afraid, the more the merrier.

    We can do it but we need to say clearly what we need people to do.

    It’s a pity I didn’t manage to change my voting centre. I am voting in Europe.
    I would have loved to have registered in one of the poor sectors of Guacara or in Los Guayos, but I would have had to go to Venezuela twice this year, which I can’t.

    The only thing I can do here is distribute information from my contacts in those areas or do some number crunching once the data starts to pour in.

    • moctavio Says:

      I dont know why, it may be limited resources, it may be that they thought that was enough, it does sound crazy to me to plan to contact 70,000 people. These guys know statistics, they are not amateurs please. I reiterate we WON the last election.

      • moctavio Says:

        Again, it says:

        En una auditoría telefónica aleatoria se estableció que el 97% de las reubicaciones fueron solicitadas por el elector o sugeridas por el CNE y aceptadas por el elector.

        If it is random, you certainly would NEVER choose 5% of the total size.

        My guess is: Out of thE 1.6 million universe a sample of 70,000 was constructed to represent certain geographical or socioeconomic characteristics. Of these 14,000 were polled at random leading to the above conclusion and they even checked to see if it depended on political tendecies.

      • Kepler Says:

        I didn’t mean to say they should have contacted the 70000 people at all. It is clear to me that 14000 is enough. The thing I was not sure about was about the “aleatorio” (random) also referring to these 14000 persons of the 70000, I misread it and see they are clearly referring to the “telefónica” part, so I assume they selected the 70000 set randomly and then again randomly (which was not clear to me, mea culpa) started to call people and once they got the 14000, they had these results, which is then completely satisfactory.

        I still hope that someone sees the 19000/2 Doppelgänger might be the tip of the iceberg in “Doppelgängertum”…and I hope the calls for more people to go help outside the very secure areas are made more public.

        We need to win by a landslide, nothing less.

        • firepigette Says:

          I agree with you Kepler….anywhere close and Chavez will steal it for sure.Only something very obvious in capital letters would threaten Chavismo.

          For Chavez elections are just a way for him to bolster his democratic
          credentials without any intention of stepping down.

          No me imagino a Chavez colocandole la banda presidencial a Capriles.

          • firepigette Says:

            sorry instead of ‘ bolster’ I should have said ‘ renew ‘his ” democratic credentials”.

          • Gold Says:

            You can’t imagine it, FP, because he won’t do it. He will quit before that happens. He will use his “illness” as an excuse and force a red reddy loser to stand in his place. He will dream of another “por ahora” moment that will never come. He will deflate like his air-filled likeness and that’s going to be the end of his epic tale, Part I. Part II plays in The Hague. There is no Part III.

    • syd Says:

      Kep dixit: Now the CNE has been modifying those records lately and new names with “no suspicious anything” appear where the Doppelgänger was.

      Question: What if the Doppelgänger, who now has “no suspicious anything” (en español, porfa), is the real person who shows up and can’t vote because of the notice against his/her C.I.?

  6. Isa Says:

    I dont follow, you expect them to contact everyone? Really? Are you serious? Statistically seems quite ok to me, but I am a sociologist.

    • Kika Bisogno Says:

      The point is that if you are only able to contact 20% of your sample (of which 97% is “ok”) it DOES NOT follow that of 80% remaining is also clean. Pure and simple LOGIC.

      • NET Says:

        But, if the contacted sample is constructed correctly (1% more of less of the total universe of 1.7mm), the results are probably statistically significant.

        • moctavio Says:

          Kika: Sorry 14,000 is a huge sample statistically, even in the whole Venezuelan population, so I think you are incorrect in your conclusions.

  7. Kika Bisogno Says:

    The evolution of the “Evolución del Registro Electoral presentation” is amazing! Little changes here and there and there is a whole new reality presented to the public, much like the “encuestas” that give Chávez an advantage of over 30 points over Capriles.

    For example, the Auditoría de reubicaciones on page 20.
    On a meeting we (Votolimpio and Esdata) held with Mr. Roberto Picón (the head of seguimiento técnico del Comando) he explained that, out of the whole universe of “migrados” (1.688.347 from since 2010) they had selected a sample of 70.000. Out of this sample, they had “managed to contact” 14 thousand!!???. And out of the 14 thousand, 97% confirmed they had requested the change.
    That little detail, which should have been stated between point 1 (+70.000 llamadas a votantes de todo el país y reubicados a partir del 26-9-2010) and point 2 (Más del 97% de los reubicados conocía su centro y solicitaron su reubicación) makes one hell of a difference, as we, dutifully, let Mr. Picón know during our meeting…

    Over the past months, we have presented arguments debating each and every point of this “study” but the truth is that the Comando’s strategy precludes the irregularities in the Registro Electoral from taking center stage during this campaign. We think that is a HUGE mistake.

    As stated at the end of this post, “Comando Venezuela believes that with adequate, well prepared witnesses at the tables, the areas of concern with the Electoral Registry can be minimized and the vote affected by it in only minimal fashion.”

    “Adequate, well prepared witnesses”, the unfulfilled promise of every past election, remains to be seen.

    • NET Says:

      The KEY is to have witnesses at virtually every voting center, especially those that can influence the outcome. From these centers, once they are closed and an Acta isuued, the Oppo witnesses can cel phone/twitter (legally, or not) the results to an Oppo data collection center where a real-time tally can be made. This is the only way the Chavistas cannot steal the Election. And, I agree, the results of an Oppo win WILL be defended this time!

  8. CharlesC Says:

    Quote of the day from Eddie Ramirez:
    “En la marcha hacia la soberanía alimentaria este año sembramos menos maíz y arroz que el anterior.”

    Good job, Lt. Coronel.That works well!!

  9. CharlesC Says:

    “Zimbabwe is an example of an impoverished nation made worse by bad leadership. Africa has a long history of “shooting themselves in the foot with their own gun” and Zimbabwe is just another example. Colonialism seriously retarded the growth of Africa, but with the end of colonial power and the chance to embrace truly African democracy, most of the countries in Africa have slid into a pool of corruption and decadence. The truly sad part is that once it was Arabs and Europeans who tortured Africa, now its Africans torturing each other.”
    The same can be said of Venezuela and other countries in S.America and Central America and the Caribbean…

  10. CharlesC Says:

    Please tell me and everyone else what a “Revolutionary Government” is.

  11. omennik live Says:

    Now i’m browsing both for blogs that provides impartial, sensible remarks at virtually all problems and / or blogs which have the generous and / or left-wing leaning. Thank you so much..

  12. syd Says:

    me duele la cabeza.

  13. moctavio Says:

    Wait! Wait! There is no name change on the ballot. The change will be that anyone voting for PSUV will be voting for the new candidate. As an example, imagine the new candidate is Adan Chavez, any vote for PSUV will go to Adan. Moreover if this is changed on Sept. 28th., by October 2nd. there will be no more campaigning. Thus, criticizing the change will likely be illegal those days.

    • NET Says:

      Then, cancel my comment above. In this case, the Opposition will have to do their best to get the news out massively/quickly, and hope that there is no sympathy vote for the First Family” (of Crooks). In this event, especially if the election were close and Adan/Hugo were to win, there would be a big question as to the stability/permanence of the new Regime going forward (nobody in Venezuela really “likes” Adan Chavez).

    • Dr. Faustus Says:

      Thank You.

      You made my point. Now does everyone understand why I am so passionate on this issue?

  14. island canuck Says:

    I really don’t see what the concern is.

    If you are on the ground here & seeing what is happening all over the country then the chance of Chavez or a secret replacement winning this election are pretty slim.

    The key is protecting these votes so we have an accurate count of the numbers.

    For me the MUCH bigger concern is what will we do when against all evidence he simple instructs the CNE to give false numbers. The MUD will know exactly how many votes they received.

    Let’s say for discussion sake that the final result is 57% for HCR & 43% for HC.
    Then the CNE announces the opposite when all over the Internet the real numbers are known.

    What will the MUD do? Go to the Supreme Court with their numbers to show the fraud? Sure they will and the SC will just say that they have no case.

    So now what? For me this is the easiest answer for HC. He controls everything including the weapons.

    Every day that goes by after 7O that they won’t acknowledge their loss will be one more nail in our coffin. I’ve always said that the delay of 3 months between the election & the turnover is going to come back to bite us in the ass.

    • Tomate Says:

      If HC is as close from kicking the bucket then he might might be driven by his ultimate dream. Which I sense is to sell more t-shirts than the Che after his death. Losing his last election will not help achieve the objective… This makes Mr. Island Canuck’s above scenario more likely.

    • Gold Says:

      “Then the CNE announces the opposite when all over the Internet the real numbers are known.”

      One element to consider for the “day after” is that people support Capriles with a passion they did not feel for Rosales. Not only is his campaign really working at every level, but men -and especially women- really like him. I sense that, this time, la gente no irá a llorar al valle. They will defend not only their vote, but they will defend Capriles, because they feel that he has really earned their support with his herculean effort.

      I don’t think even the narcogenerals will want to face incensed hordes of féminas aguerridas defending their candidate come 8O. They much rather pack their LV and go to Cuba.

      • deananash Says:

        Haha, what internet? The one where access is controlled by HC and the government? Dream on. Chavez will NEVER relinquish power via the ballot box. Ain’t gonna happen.

        • island canuck Says:

          The information will be available – GloboVision, text, Internet through proxies, telephone, CNN International, etc., etc. In 2012 it will be impossible to keep a lid on things – just too many sources.

          Not to say they won’t try.

  15. Kepler Says:

    OK, Miguel, perhaps that’s right but how would they proceed to do that concretely? If they do so publicly, by replacing the ballots, I don’t think even die-hard Chávez fans will vote for the alternative…and if they can somehow announce after election time “oops, you voted for Chávez, but it’s actually Maduro-Puppet-of-Cubans” through some imaginative interpretation of the “law”, people won’t accept that either.

    Chávez’s girls will say: “No Chávez, no party” and neither George Clooney nor Maduro will be able to come in – methinks.

  16. Paul Esqueda Says:

    Those people are smart and sneaky. So my advice to Comando Venezuela is “Ojo Pelao.”

  17. firepigette Says:

    Faustus , nobody knows anything.This situation of whether or not Chavez will die is fluid, sometimes chaotic , unpredictable, unnerving, and confusing – which is why I feel the need for centering instead of consuming my energy over it.This video shows one fun way to keep from distraction so that when the time comes we will be in possession of our attention and our wits.Enjoy:

    “The dance is the cyclone, his whole body is in motion is fluid, dynamic, but at the center of consciousness observed in silence, undisturbed and without distractions. Outwardly, you can only learn the exercise. Outwardly you do not ever know what is happening inside the dancer. And the real story is inside.”

  18. Pedro Blanco Says:

    agree with Syd, thanks… I hate to say it, but I’m too lazy to read too much in Spanish… it’s bad enough having to wade through the Veneconomia opina’s en espanol now!!!

  19. syd Says:

    Congratulations, Miguel. I look forward to more “insider” accounts.

  20. Dr. Faustus Says:

    “All in all, the Comando Venezuela believes that with adequate, well prepared witnesses at the tables, the areas of concern with the Electoral Registry can be minimized and the vote affected by it in only minimal fashion.”

    Outstanding. This is indeed heartening. But…

    Can someone from the Capriles campaign confront Chavez himself as to whether or not ‘his’ name will be the only name on the October 7th ballot? This should be brought to the attention of the Venezuelan media as well. If the PSUV is allowed to switch names one week before the election, all may be lost. Sorry for the repitition here, but this is a very important issue with me. I feel very strongly that this, the switching of names, is the secret plan they have conjured-up for October. Beware!

    • Kepler Says:

      Faustus, do you believe at this stage Chávez will die before October? Doesn’t look like, not that he were jumping or so.

    • syd Says:

      I started thinking (rare occurence) that there are two reasons why the PSUV is allowed to switch names one week before the election.

      1. Chávez realizes that his health is too fragile to govern for another 6 years.
      2. Chávez realizes, in less than 2 months from now, that Capriles has gained more ground, and that Chávez stands to lose badly. The loss of face would be untenable.

    • Dr. Faustus Says:


      Whether Chavez is alive in October or not is not the issue here. It is clear to many who have been watching this that Chavez’s cancer is terminal. The PSUV knows this. Fidel and Raul Castro know this. Daniel Ortega knows this. The Venezuelan constitution will not allow a Vice-President to step-in upon the death of the President. New elections must be held. The only way around this problem for the Chavistas is changing the name on the ballot a few days before the election. Confront this issue now! ….not react to it when it occurs in October. Sorry,…I’m passionate about this.

      • Kepler Says:

        OK, I get your point. Now: what do you propose? Capriles saying at a press conference that the PSUV cannot change the name of the ballot shortly before election time is not precisely good news.
        Let’s imagine they do that. I ask: can they sort of do it “without anyone noticing it”? That is: can they go to Tibisay and legally tell her a week before election day “we change the name to Adán…don’ tell anyone”?
        I don’t know.
        If people do know they changed the name, I don’t think people will vote for Chávez, even if his image is on the ballot.

      • Roy Says:

        Without Chavez’s name on the ballot, the PSUV would certainly lose.

        “No hay Chavismo sin Chavez”

        I see what you are thinking, but I just don’t see them going this route.

    • Dr. Faustus Says:


      Yes, your points are indeed valid. Capriles should never do this himself. Others, however, should do it for him. I would only argue that this ‘name changing’ possibility should be given a lot of publicity. It should be a discussion topic within the opposition party. The PSUV will change the name. I am completely convinced that it is going to happen.

      Hugo Chavez has terminal cancer. The likelyhood that he will be ruling a year from now, provided he wins, is very remote. Within the inner circles of the Chavistas, they know this. They also know that a victory in October would be ‘meaningless’ to them. Futile. They’re not stupid. Upon his death a united opposition candidate would easily defeat anyone they choose to nominate. The polling clearly spells this out. So, the only logical conclusion you can come to is that ‘a plan’ is in place which will insure a 6 year term upon an election victory. They’re gonna pull a fast one and change the names at the last minute. Just watch.

      • NET Says:

        I agree with Kepler above. Name change, even keeping Chavez’s image on the ballot, is no guarantee of “victory”, but probably just the opposite. Also, Chavez’s ego will probably not allow a last-minute change, regardless of his health, since historically he’s only been interested in himself, over all other considerations: “Pueblo”, Party, and Robolucion. .

  21. Kepler Says:

    Miguel, the figure was higher. They keep changing the records…this is work in progress. I sent you the list of funny records based on the data set from 2010. Half of them are now different people.

    Now: those IDs are “people with the same number and the same birth date”. Obviously, apart from a few José Rodríguez, most are not real or doubles.
    But if they were able to add people with the same birth day I think they can also give records with a different birth day and then there is no way to identify them. Do they need a birth certificate? Well, at least not for going to vote.

  22. moctavio Says:

    I imagine people tried to get more than one cedula using connections in order to vote more than once.

  23. edgarfp Says:

    “18 thousand id’s associated to 9 thousand people” 2 id’s per person?? how this could happen?

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