“I’m looking for the address but it’s not even on Google Maps.”

Alfonso, a 26 year old from Caracas, just found out that he will no longer vote in Universidad Nueva Esparta, his regular voting center, but in the Unidad Educativa Nacional Bolivariana La Unión, a place he has never been to and has no idea where it is.

The National Electoral Council (CNE) just changed the location of several voting centers, mostly in densely opposition states, in an apparent gambit to win the upcoming gubernatorial elections.

“What a shitshow” Alicia, a young woman from Chacao, tells me. “I vote with my grandpa here in the neighborhood, and now I don’t know where we’re supposed to go on Sunday.”

The actual number of centers relocated is 205

Although there’s no official statement from the CNE, boardmember Tania D’Amelio announced the relocation via Twitter, citing “safety” and “infrastructure” concerns as the main reasons, and asking voters to call 0800 VOTEMOS (08008683667) to check which and where their new voting stations are.

With four days to go, that’s all she said.

“They are making it harder for people” says Liliana Hernández, MUD’s elections coordinator for this election. “The government knows what we know, and this is their way to dupe the voters on October 15th.”

The actual number of centers relocated, she adds, is 205.

According to Eugenio Martínez, a journalist and expert on the Venezuelan electoral system, the decision jeopardizes victories for the opposition in the states of Miranda (30 centers affected) and Aragua (36 centers affected). Overall, this decision could affect 500,000 registered voters.

“The decision was made, allegedly, for security reasons” he said, “repeating a speech from July 30th that doesn’t make sense. They’re moving voters from San Ignacio, where everything is usually calm, to Campo Alegre, where a few months ago there was nothing but tear gas.”

But the CNE’s move makes sense if you consider the political and economic meltdown, and all the polls predicting a major opposition triumph. And Martínez agrees: “They’re changing centers from cities to rural areas, with the obvious purpose of affecting voter’s rights to participate in the election.”

Overall, this decision could affect 500,000 registered voters.

“For example, they switched all the voters from [middle class] Universidad Metropolitana to a poorer area where you can’t add more voting booths. They need the opposition to abstain. They are trying to take control in centers where, in normal conditions, the opposition could have an easy victory.”

The MUD faces a new challenge with little time and tools, so Martínez advices strategic thinking: people at the voting centers must inform their fellow voters and guarantee their transportation.

Perhaps this move might even change the minds of some disaffected opposition voters who now see casting a ballot in a far away polling station as a way to push back on the regime’s authoritarian practices.

“I don’t care if I have to drive 30 minutes” Karina, a 26 year old caraqueña says, while learning the news. “This means that the Government is scared. I don’t know where I’m voting, but I’ll find out and I’ll definitely vote.”

It seems that the government just did the opposition a favor by giving Sunday’s election the epic narrative that no amount of campaigning and mediocre candidates could, up to now.

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  1. Yes! Finally someone said it… that’s exactly what they are doing! They did the opposition a big favor.. how could I not see it before?!

    Millions protesting after 7.7M vote for a renewed government. So the regime actually pulls an election out of its hat so it’s not ousted but actually democratically removed! Throw in an inauditable election, no serious procedure, migrate some voters from their centers, take away the ink, have CNE be proclaimed by ANC, have ANC designate the date of the election because they are actually building up the momentum for the oppositions triumphant moment!! After 19 elections, this is actually the one!! It’s all just a huge favor.. ahhh man how could I have been so blind.. thanks Gaby! #OpenYourEyes

      • It’s probably a defense mechanism to help cope with the nightmare that is living in Venezuela nowadays, something à la “La Vita è Bella”, the Italian WW2 movie, or “El Laberinto del Fauno”, the one on the Spanish Civil War…

        Reality is sometimes too painful to bear, especially for a young person like Gaby seems to be.

        She wants to get out of the hell that she’s living and feel some hope about the future, even if just for a brief moment, even if just for one paragraph, as reality will bite again at any moment.

        I guess we should cut her some slack, given the context, but I don’t think writing here helps her in any way.

        You need to relax a bit, Gaby.

        • Bueno, someone got around to reporting the economics:

          [start quote from Reuters]
          “As of April 2016, half of Venezuela’s working population was either jobless or employed only in part-time, “informal” jobs, like street vending, according to the last available official statistics.

          Compounding the pain, consumer spending slumped by 15 percent last year and is expected to decline by yet another 25 percent this year, according to local consulting group Ecoanalitica.

          Venezuelan businesses are enduring their worst moment in decades, with at least two in every 10 factories halted, according to a Conindustria, the country’s main industry association.

          President Nicolas Maduro’s government defends policies, like widely-criticized currency controls, that many businesses say wrecked the economy. He blames the halving of international oil prices since 2014, which slashed Venezuela’s revenues.

          Maduro also accuses foreign firms of intentionally limiting investment and production as part of an “economic war” waged by political opponents and the United States.

          The Information Ministry did not respond to a request for comment.”
          [end quote from Reuters]

          • I read that article a few days ago.

            I think that any multi-nationals still operating there have to be under suspicion for SOMETHING. From every business aspect/model, it doesn’t make sense.

  2. “It seems that the government just did the opposition a favor by giving Sunday’s election the epic narrative that no amount of campaigning and mediocre candidates could, up to now.”

    Not really. Abstention in those places will be high if this is the case.

    Ocariz’s victory is still probable, though.

  3. I checked my voting center yesterday around noon and everything was OK. Last night, close to midnight, got a call telling me we had been moved to a new location. This, just a little bit over 48 hours before elections. Three voting centers in El Cafetal were moved to a voting center in Chuao; which will now be handling four times the number of people. All these locations normally vote around 95% opposition. Wonder how many voting centers in the pro-government areas have been moved.


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