Zulia voting centers moved...a week before the vote

Some of these new voting centers are really out of the way...

What would happen if a week before the World Cup Final FIFA decided to change the location of the match? Not only that, but what if they do this and don’t tell anyone where is this new location? Well, the World Cup of Venezuelan parliamentary elections is six days from now, and CNE has just changed the venue for 40 thousand Zulianos.

On Saturday, Zulia newspaper La Verdad reported that the CNE changed the locations of 32 election centers in the state.

Originally, the exact number of voters affected by this was unknown, since the Regional Electoral Office claimed it was not authorized to reveal the number of voters registered in each center, even though the figure is traditionally made available to the public before each election.  But now we know the number is around 40,708 people. The CNE argued infrastructure deficiencies as the reason behind this sudden change.

Most voting centers in the country are public schools, and given the overall state of our education infrastructure, this seems as a legitimate reason. But doing this one week before the election? That is simply impractical, to say the least. Thousands of people used to voting in one place will have to go elsewhere to cast their votes, and with no reliable information made available just days before 6D, this will lead to confusion and disenfranchisement from some voters.

Which centers have been closed down? Which new centers have been activated? We don’t know. The only confirmed change has been the Liceo Baralt school, in Maracaibo, which has been moved to the nearby Escuela Técnica Francisco Duarte. 

The list has just been published. However, as of this morning, if you look in the electoral registry for a cédula of someone who votes in Liceo Baralt, it still says the person is voting in Liceo Baralt, so it seems the changes are yet to be reflected in the CNE’s website. And even if they did publish the changes now, I cannot imagine the amount of people that will show up to their usual voting centers on Sunday morning, and be surprised by closed gates and a wachiman telling them the center is not operating.

If there is a state in which the government has a reason to make it hard for people to cast their votes, that is Zulia. In the last parliamentary election, the state elected 12 opposition legislators, compared to only 3 chavista ones. As it happens with our mixed proportional representation electoral system, the winner is always disproportionately favored, and the opposition obtained this vast lead with only 54.82% of the votes in the state. Simple, if you can’t beat them, do everything in your power so they can’t play.

So far, only two members of Un Nuevo Tiempo (Zulia’s strongest opposition party) have commented on the CNE’s move. One of them was Nora Bracho, Secretary General of UNT-Zulia and candidate for the circuito 5.