Square this circle...

It’s a replay of last November! In so many ways! First the opposition exceeds its needed tally, and goes euphoric. The government, as soon as it notices the opposition has the signatures (but not earlier, never earlier) starts to allege a sophisticated fraud. Last time, it was the infamous planillas planas, this time, they’re alleging “ID card cloning centers” running out of Sumate’s voter ID centers. The opposition charges DISIP with seeking to plant this evidence in Sumate facilities all over the place.

I asked my Sumate volunteer sister about this last night and we had a good laugh about it. “So, Mari, did you hide the cloned cedulas well?” “Yes, of course Quico, we at Sumate are very proud of our organizational know-how – of course, it was hard to hide the masses and masses of fake cedulas, but we managed it…” [sarcasm alert: she was of course laughing her head off at the notion – once again, only someone who’s never been to Sumate could believe an accusation so plainly contrary to the spirit of the organization.]

So yesterday, among these dark mutterings of cloned cedulas, someone actually asked Alberto Quiroz about the possibility of a further round of “reparos” to repair the repairs…suggesting the possibility of an endlessly regressing set of further verifications that would only, logically, be stopped by the laws of sequential halving: eventually your sample would be reduced to one single reparante and you could not subdivide him any further, barring mutilation or something extreme like that. Quiroz just smiled and said that such a “nightmare” is simply not in the cards.

Here’s what the rules say about this latest bit of tropical kafkaism:


RESOLUCIÓN N° 040420-563

Caracas, 20 de abril de 2004

Capítulo VII: De la Totalización

Artículo 21. Órgano competente. La Junta Nacional Electoral totalizará el conjunto de actas originales recibidas diariamente de la totalidad de las Mesas de Reparo, en un lapso no mayor de tres (3) días continuos siguientes al último día de del evento de reparo correspondiente y procederá a hacer públicos los resultados definitivos.


Asimismo, luego de la totalización definitiva de los reparos queda excluida cualquier actividad de verificación posterior.

CNE Regulations

National Electoral Concil

Resolution No. 040420-563

Caracas, April 20, 2004

Chapter VII: On Tallying

Article 21: Relevant agency. The National Electoral Junta shall tally the set of original actas received daily from all of the Reparo Tables, in a period no longer than three (3) consecutive days after the last day of the corresponding reparo event and will proceed to publish the results.


After the definitive tally of the reparos, any further verification activity is ruled out.

Call me a romantic, but I don’t see how they can cheat here. The Junta Nacional Electoral – the operational arm of CNE – is a mere arithmetic body here, a “counting instance”, a glorified abacus. And after the tally, any further verification is explicitly ruled out. Not that I doubt their creativity in bending the rules, just that this rule is particularly straightforward and lacking in ambiguity – so the Creative Jurisprudence Squad will have to work extra hard this time around.