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International Accompaniers Say Venezuelan Elections Free and Transparent

The group of international accompaniers invited by the National Electoral Council (CNE) to witness Venezuela’s regional elections last Sunday presented their reports on Monday. A total of 33 representatives were present from 18 countries, including one from the U.S., six from Europe and 12 from Latin America. They visited voting centers in the states of Aragua, Miranda and Vargas.

The representative of the Inter-American Union of Electoral Organizations (UNIORE), Rosario Graciano, highlighted the civic and peaceful nature of the electoral process. He spoke about the inter-agency coordination between the different entities involved in the elections, and including the participation of the armed forces in the security efforts under the Plan República, as well as the CNE officials at the different voting centers.

Graciano, who is also vice president of the electoral board of the Dominican Republic, called the process “free, transparent.” She said that it contained elements that could be replicated in other countries such as electronic voting, the speed of the transmission of results, and the use of digital fingerprinting.

The vice president of the Mercosur Parliament, Rubén Martínez Huelmo, also gave a positive evaluation of the efforts of Venezuela’s electoral authorities regarding their efforts to increase voter registration, incorporate new technologies into the voting process, and audit and monitor the voting system to ensure accuracy.

The accompaniers said that they were able to observe the civic spirit of the voters and citizen confidence in the electoral authorities. They did, however, note some delays in the assembling of voting tables due to the absence of some members of the voting tables, as well as some confusion about the ballot.

One of their recommendations was to better differentiate the elections on the ballot to avoid confusion, and to give more information to voters through more participation from the political parties. These issues were raised by José Luis Pérez Tapias of the Junta de Andalucía. Other accompaniers came from various parliaments, politcal parties, social movements, NGOs, the media and academic institutions.

The group also recommended ending the use of indelible ink for fingerprinting, something they believed “does not match the advances achieved in the area of automation.”

They saluted the CNE’s process for choosing poll workers through a random public drawing, however, they also called on citizens to take the duty more seriously due to some lack of attendance on the day of the voting.

Pérez Tapias affirmed that the Venezuelan electoral process was “a great learning experience and a great surprise” for him, as well as for other accompaniers from countries where voting is often done manually.

“We confirmed the modernity of the system. The speed of the electoral process is impressive, as is the inviolability of the secret ballot, which establishes Venezuela as one of the leading countries in this area. We have learned a lot from the electoral events in Venezuela,” he said.

Prensa CNE / Press – Venezuelan Embassy to the U.S. / December 18, 2012

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