Tour of Caracas On Voting Day: No Lines, Some Abuses

April 14, 2013

Update 3:30 PM: Participation has improved at this time, it is running 4% behind October only. Lara, Anzoategui and the Capital District have much higher participation, but in this range things look difficult.

Update 1:47PM: I am told by reliable people that at 1 PM the percentage of voters that had cast their vote was running 10% behind the same number in October.

I just took my usual spin through Caracas on election day, driving from Petare to Caricuao to see what was happening. What I saw was absolutely no lines anywhere, not even groups of people in front of voting centers, of which I must have seen two or three dozen. In fact, since I remembered that the biggest lines last October were in Plaza La Candelaria in downtown Caracas, I went there just to check, but the result was the same, no lines at all where in October there were multiple lines:

Image

Traffic was a mess in certain parts of the city. It took me longer to go around because there is an increasing trend to block an ever larger area around the voting center. In fact, in Avenida Romulo Gallegos in Montecristo, they blocked off two blocks of that avenue, which is an important street, particularly on Sundays when Cota Mil is closed until 1 PM. Took me a while to get out of that mess.

In fact, the whole thing is so ridiculous, that while I would have had a hard time taking picture of the lines, if they had been there, directly in front of most voting centers, I had no problem stopping in front of the Miraflores Presidential Palace and take a picture. The Guard did not like it, but he barely moved anyway:

Miraflores

There were many reports of abuses. The main one was that of the “accompanied” vote, whereby someone in the voting stand accompanies voters to make sure they are voting the “right” way. This type of vote is allowed for older people and those with disabilities, but the person that accompanies the voter can only do it once and has to sign a form. This was not being done in many polling stations, particularly in Zulia State and TV was showing videos of this being done.

But the immutable Tibisay Lucena, Head of the Electoral Board,  came on TV and said everything was peachy and rosy. That the only incident she had to report was our people eating their ballots after casting the vote and some irregularities, only a few, in assisted voting.

I did see lots of motorcyclists in groups wearing red shirts and making noise, passing in some cases near voting centers , which is forbidden. There were also many trucks with improvised speakers on top, encouraging people to go and vote, no matter who they were going to vote for. I took a picture of one of them thru the car window, at the edge of La Urbina and Petare,which I was not planning to post:

chamos

except that right after I took the picture the police pulled them out, harassing them about campaigning. I stopped to help out, which one of the cops did not like, telling me to “Circulate, citizen” (Circule, ciudadano). Right at that point a Chavista truck with songs promoting Maduro went by and people started yelling at them that they did not dare stop the Chavistas and the cops decided to leave (Not going after the Chavistas). In fact, as I write this, the son of the Rector of Universidad Metropolitana, a good friend, is detained for driving in one of these “promote the vote” trucks.

Meanwhile in El Silencio, you can see the PSUV post behind the fountains, where four or five people were distributing propaganda, which is not allowed on election day:

SILENCIO

Everyone is explaining away the lack of lines as saying that people have voted three times using the same system since October. Others say that this is because the opposition is staggering the voting according to age. But I went to Chavista areas and just did not see lines anywhere, which leads me to believe that abstention will be high. Remember that prior to 2006, abstention levels tended to be closer to 40% than 20%. Does Chavez’ absence from the ballot indicate we will go back to those levels now?

I just don’t know, but we will know in a few hours.

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26 Responses to “Tour of Caracas On Voting Day: No Lines, Some Abuses”

  1. captainccs Says:

    ABA was out for about 15 minutes.

  2. moses Says:

    There are twits mentioning internet blackouts:
    VVSincensura ‏@VVperiodistas 1m
    Usuarios denuncian caída de Aba de CANTV. Cuidado con un blackout #Democracia2013
    Expand

    I am not using ABA…

  3. Ronaldo Says:

    At 6:12 pm Caracas time, trucks were still playing Chavez singing and making a ruckus. I heard them during a phone call to Caracas. Probably more of an annoyance, then a way to get people out to vote for Chavez.

  4. moctavio Says:

    That is not true. Up to now, 75% in the top pro-opo, 68% in top pro-Chavez that is far from 81%

  5. Pedro A Says:

    @luisvicenteleon: Es falso que hay un alto nivel de abstención. La tasa de votación es igual o mayor que en Octubre.

  6. captainccs Says:

    >>>Update 1:47PM: I am told by reliable people that at 1 PM the percentage of voters that had cast their vote was running 10% behind the same number in October.

    Let’s hope it’s the chavistas abstaining.

  7. captainccs Says:

    I got home at 3:30 after a 4 and a half hour walk from Los Caobos to Altamira and back. I talked to a lot of people, no queues anywhere. Voting was quick. Capta-huella was used only once not twice as last time. There seemed to be no delaying tactics by the government. Opposition people were very optimistic. I ran into some youth that I would not have thought were anti-Chavez.

    A Maduro truck is going by my house this minute, totally illegal.

    Let’s see how they steal the vote this time.

  8. HalfEmpty Says:

    In which Boludo Tejano outs himself has a really ancient kinda guy with a weakness for hilarity. I thought I was the only Vaughn Meader fan left.

    • Roy Says:

      Half,

      Damn. Just a couple of days ago, I pointed out to someone that the “Riiiiight” line came from Bill Cosby in “God Talks to Noah” and not originally from Mike Meyers as Dr. Evil in “Austin Powers”. That made me feel old.

      But, you’ve got me beat with that one.

  9. Boludo Tejano Says:

    There were also many trucks with improvised speakers on top, encouraging people to go and vote, no matter who they were going to vote for.

    Which reminds me of a comedy skit from a more innocent time, when Vaughn Meader parodied President Kennedy and the other members of the First Family.

    The following is a public service announcement. Election day is near. Go to the polls and vote. Vote for the Kennedy of your choice, but vote.

    At 7:25 of the video.

  10. moses Says:

    Here are the numbers in one Mesa in Alto Prado in Caracas: 1:52 pm 57.8%: 20 min break for lunch !

  11. moctavio Says:

    it was changed by CAP, so it was 89

  12. Michael Says:

    Are the lines any bigger now since the oppo is heading out now?


  13. Took me 9 minutes to vote (from the moment I stepped into the voting center to the moment I stepped out of it); strangely (taking into consideration past elections) there was no-one with any t-shirt or hats or anything that would obviously tell who they were supporting, however, the loud-speakers had Chávez singing.

  14. moses Says:

    Here are the numbers in one Mesa in Alto prado in Caracas: 1:15 pm 52.9%


  15. En el siguiente vídeo pueden ver como se vota en Venezuela, acompañado por un individuo del goobierno que te amenaza si no votas por el que ellos dicen!!! esto pasó hoy en muchas mesas electorales. http://bit.ly/1589Wvi

  16. Kepler Says:

    Miguel, hi.

    Abstention was rather low in Venezuela until 1988.
    This is a chart I plotted from CNE historical data:

    • Jeffry house Says:

      I thought voting used to be obligatory until the first “Chavez” Constitution?

      • moctavio Says:

        But after 88 it picked up, as people were no longer threatened with the fact that it was obligatory to vote.

        I think the change was in 1989

        • Kepler Says:

          Miguel, did you see my chart? Voting was ALWAYS HIGH and only dropped after 1983, with the crisis of the IV Republic.
          The situation now is just like it was in 1983 or earlier.

          • moctavio Says:

            No, it was illegal and punished by law not to vote before that. They even placed a sticker on your cedula so you could prove you voted, that was abandoned in the 1988 election.

            • Kepler Says:

              OK, but then the only comparison could be from 1988 as before it was another game. And 1988 had higher participation than 2012.


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