Chavistas have no idea how to vote today, or for whom

Nobody understands today’s election system. With everything on the line, this might as well be a lottery.

“I’m going to vote for the Constituyente,” the man told me. When I asked for whom, however, it got blurry.

“Well, I get to vote for the pensioners”, he said. He’s in his 70s and, although he doesn’t get any benefit other than his pension, all of his sons work for the State. Voting, for him, is a way to support them.

“I’ll vote in the school…”

“No, you don’t”, his grandson interrupted. “That place was closed, now you vote in Maripérez.”

“I vote somewhere else?”

“Yes” answered the grandson, sitting in a bench of Plaza Bolívar, barely away from the Esquina Caliente, where chavista hotheads watch VTV all day long. Not long after our conversation, Tibisay Lucena, president of the CNE, announced that voters could go to any center of their municipality.

“It’s difficult for the viejos explaines the young man on the bench. “I can look for information on the internet, but they can’t”.

A detail of today’s election is how convoluted it is; there are thousands of candidates running in the municipio-por-municipio election, and thousands more running in a confusing “sectorial” election. All of them represent the ruling party, but nobody knows who they are. In the privacy of the voting booth, people will have to pick which, exactly, they want as representatives.

“I don’t know the process” says a 30 something in a “La Constituyente Va” t-shirt. “I hope the Punto Rojo tells me”.

CNE’s education campaign has been ultra weak. A handful of videos explain the process, but no one I talked to seemed to get the details. This time, for example, there won’t be dedito mojado, a constant in Venezuelan elections of recent years. Conditions change by the minute, and because there are so many candidates, people will vote for a number, not a name. Chances are, people will just pick them at random.  

The grandpa scratched his cheek.

“Well, first I’ll vote for number one, that’s Delcy (Rodríguez). Then I’ll vote for the number a friend is going to tell me, someone she knows and I like.”

Meanwhile, in the heart of power, there are red tents with a few red shirts waiting to be given away still.

“Come learn how to vote!” one said with a bullhorn, as everybody walked by.

Gaby J. Miller

Gaby is a Caraqueña steeped in 90's pop culture who likes to talk and write politics.