Reporting the Venezuelan Elections

When the People Choose a President
By Les Blough, Editor
Dec 27, 2006, 17:52

During my last trip to Venezuela, covering the December 3, 2006 presidential elections for Axis of Logic, I had the opportunity to closely observe the voting procedures in a number of election stations in Caracas. During that time, I submitted 4 reports about the elections and the people in my second Venezuelan series, Observing the Revolution – The December 3, 2006 Presidential Election. Since my return to Boston, I have described my observations of the electoral process in Venezuela to a number of people in private conversations. Their responses have been so strong that I decided to pass my observations on to our readers. My fifth and final installment in this series is a simple description of the voting procedures which I and others observed during this historic election.

On December 3rd, my good friend, Augusto Montiel, a Deputy (senator) in the National Assembly drove Andy Goodall, Coordinator of Venezuela Solidarity UK and me through two areas of Caracas. The first was Altamira, a wealthy section of Caracas. The second was largest Barrio in Latin America, Petare, in the sector José Félix Ribas. We observed the voting process in election stations in both of these Caracas neighborhoods. The procedures were identical.

In the days prior to the election, mock voting was broadcast on national television to explain the voting procedure to the people to prepare them for the big day.

At 6:00 AM on November 30 the presidential campaigns were ended as required, according to Venezuelan law. After this time, no campaigning is permitted to continue until the CNE (National Election Commission) reports the official count of the votes. Likewise, no news organization is allowed to support either candidate in any way or to report on exit polls or partial returns – or to suggest who may be the winner during this period.

Early in the morning of December 3 fireworks and a lively playing of the military reveille was sounded in neighborhoods throughout Venezuela to wake people from their sleep and to encourage them to get out and vote. The voting stations were open from 6:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Anyone already in line to vote at 4 PM would be permitted to vote after 4 PM and the election stations remained open until the last person in line cast their vote.

Read the rest here.

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