Fwd: Venezuela election witness report

From Ken Jones (of Westbrook,Maine) who was part of a delegation in Caracas last week.

Begin forwarded message:

From: Ken Jones <jonesk@maine.edu>

April 20, 2012

To the editor:

I just got back from being in Caracas where I was part of an interfaith delegation observing the Venezuelan presidential election and the events surrounding it. What we saw was a remarkably transparent and efficient voting process, rightfully called the best in the world by Jimmy Carter, followed by mayhem in the streets promoted by an opposition which refused to accept the results.

What the U.S. media fail to report is the world recognized quality of the voting system in Venezuela.

Unlike in the U.S., voters in Venezuela must present their national identification card and have that checked against their thumbprint before the automated voting machine is activated. Their votes are made electronically and paper receipts are given which are checked and placed in a ballot box.

The entire process is facilitated by randomly chosen citizens and witnessed by representatives of both parties. When the polls close, there is print out of the results given to the party witnesses and a random audit of 54% of the voting tables to check the paper ballots against the electronic results.

There is an independent branch of the government that is in charge of the elections. It is this branch, not the executive, that conducts and monitors the election. And it is this body that reviewed the opposition request for a re-count and agreed to audit the additional 46% of the paper ballots. The decision was not Maduro’s to make, as reported by the U.S. media, nor is it a “recount.” Over half of the paper ballots have already been checked, far more than needed for a scientifically valid sampling.

Venezuela has enormous voter participation, far more than in the U.S. In this election, 78.7% of registered voters voted. The results were that Maduro won over Capriles with a 1.6% margin, small but not unheard of. This is a greater margin, for example, than the Kennedy-Nixon election (a .1% margin) or the Bush-Gore election (where Gore actually won the popular vote with a .5% margin). It is also comparable to the Bush-Kerry election (a 2.4% margin).

Immediately after the election results were announced, Capriles called the election fraudulent and Maduro illegitimate. He called his supporters into the streets, causing 7 deaths and 61 injuries and attacks on health clinics, food stories, and the homes of rival political figures.

The United States continues to support the opposition, refusing to recognize the newly elected government. 61 countries were present at Maduro’s inauguration, including all Latin American countries and 17 heads of state. But not the U.S.

Our government and media cling to the belief that Venezuela is a dictatorship rather than a democracy. In Venezuela and around the world, it is well-known that the U.S. supported the 2002 coup attempt against democratically elected President Chavez and that it has continued to support covert attempts by the opposition to destabilize the government. Now the U.S. stands alone in supporting an opposition which has been electorally defeated for the sixteenth time and is inciting violence in the streets.

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