Infographics by Mario Dávila

Null votes and abstention are there in every election and, once results are in, nobody thinks about them. But how did they really factor in during the last regional elections, and how do they predict what’s to come?

The Power of the Null

In the 2004 regional elections, the null vote averaged 5.5% of total votes. It was 4% in 2008, and 3.8% in 2012.

It might seem like pocket change, but in 2004, the null vote surpassed the difference between the winning and losing votes in Carabobo, Miranda and Yaracuy. This happened again in Carabobo and Táchira in 2008 (helping the opposition win, by the way), and in Bolívar in 2012.

Abstention can (help you) win

The number of citizens who didn’t vote was always higher than the difference between the winning and losing votes with the exception of Delta Amacuro in 2008.

And though it may seem obvious, it’s funny how, as voter turnout decreased, it got easier for the winner to lead since fewer votes were needed.

See, on these last regional elections, eight governorships were won with 25% or less of all registered voters in each state — one state took the cake in all three elections: Francisco Rangel Gómez won the governor’s race in Bolívar with 23% of the electoral registry in 2004, 25% in 2008 and a mere 18% in 2012.

Abstention and Null Votes don’t play together (or do they?)

Now, the percentage of null votes amongst total votes didn’t vary much when crossed with abstention levels. But careful here: the number of null votes seems to be directly proportional to abstention.

An abstention of, say, 42% is not the same in Miranda as it is in Táchira, as the results of 2012 depicted (830,281 and 350,762 votes respectively). But as the number of voters increases, the number of null votes decreases.

This means that in an election with informed and motivated voters (as it was in 2008), the number of voters increases — and these folks know how to vote.  

How will it play out this time?

The opposition leaders seem to have forgotten about last year’s referendum, inhabilitaciones and political prisoners, to favor a widely unpopular CNE in all the regular (and irregular) steps to hold regional elections. Chavismo protected their unpopular governors by choosing different candidates for some states, while throwing away money in anything but modest campaigns full of age-old promises.

So these elections come right at us with (apparently) unmotivated citizens, who don’t think this election will make much difference in their daily life.

In this scenario, the null votes and the abstention could make a huge difference.

If, for example, traditional opposition municipalities like Baruta and Chacao don’t pull in good numbers, or show up making a bunch of mistakes at the voting stations, the opposition candidate for Miranda will lose.

Keep an eye on these joker cards, for they might be critical.

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    • Coincido plenamente con su primera frase. Pedir el voto sin recordarle y dejarle bien claro a todos que será inútil porque la dictadura hará lo que le de la gana con él es un error grave que la oposición todavía no ha asimilado

  1. Keep wasting your time weighing in how doing this or that will affect the opposition. The game is rigged and everybody knows it. Heads I win, tails you lose.

  2. Good analysis, keep the good work coming ! There was a very good electoral analyst named Aristides Torres, USB professor, it is sad that he dissapeared prematurely. Look him up in Google.

  3. A lot of effort and research went into this well-written piece, no doubt. But is it not like writing about 5 Star meals served at the world’s finest restaurants as one is literally dying of hunger? I don’t get it.

  4. I’ve been so wrong so many times believing that THIS TIME whatever the opposition is doing will surely work and pay big dividends, only to be utterly flabergasted at the results. Everyone knows my thoughts on this election. I hope I’m wrong again but at this point I’m not seeing it.

    • You’re never wrong. That’s the problem.

      The Borg said “Resistance is futile,” and in Venezuela’s case, I would add “Optimism is futile” as well.

      You’re allowed to not Iive in Fantasyland. Don’t ever feel guilty or any other negative emotion to think and act that it’s all fucking over, unless VZ’s neighbors ever grow a pair of balls and try to save 30 million people.


      Because certainly, God forbid the paleface gringos tried to do it!

      Fuck, I bet you CANADA intervening would meet with a FRACTION of the negative Latin American feedback compared to the States if they went in and took care of the problem. And let’s make no mistake about it:

      A military solution is the only way to fix this.

      But Canada doesn’t lead, ever. There’s something in the water there that affects their moral compass.

  5. Anabella, no le pares a los comentaristas bate quebrados, este tipo de analsis, como los que hace Daniel Duquenal nos ayudan a todos …

    • Jejeje, “bates quebrados”, a formita tan chavista de atacar a los demás.

      Sigue creyendo que ignorar el hecho de como se cuentan los votos en Venezuela va a ayudar encontrarle una solución al problema.

  6. I have been saying for a long time now and will repeat it, Civil War IS the ONLY way out. Forget military intervention and absolutely forget about FANB or GNB choosing sides with the opposition. This Narco Cuban Dictatorship will NEVER hand over power EVER if they don’t have a gun pointed right between their fucking red eyes. Also please don’t tell me that “they” have the guns and/or similar BS. In Venezuela is 100x easier to buy a gun or assault rifel than it is to buy a pan campesino ffs!!! There are ridiculous amounts of guns for sale at very affordable prices!!!!!

  7. Please, stop aiming for the wrong target to sustain the future excuse for getting only two governorships as it will be blaming the loss in the “slippered abstentionists”

    THIS is the actual trump card of chavismo: THE ELECTRONIC VOTING SYSTEM:

    “If there is an inconsistency between the paper ballots and the result in the machine, the one that’ll be taken into account will be the NUMBER IN THE MACHINE”


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