I’m Going to Vote

For Sunday, October 15, 2017. Translated by Javier Liendo.

1

Just a few hours before regional elections, the National Electoral Council released the list of candidate replacements from August, ignoring all the requests made by the opposition in a more reasonable date. Since this list was made public via a press release, the CNE didn’t explain how processed replacements will impact electoral ballots and much less whether votes for replaced candidates will be counted toward the MUD opposition candidate.

Interference

With the CNE, everything is critical, so on top of the lack of information in the previous paragraph, there’s also a complaint lodged by MUD yesterday, saying that there are Nicaraguan experts in the country specialized fraud techniques that include relocating voting centers -a scheme known as “ratón loco”- used by the Nicaraguan government to confuse opposition voters. MUD demanded that Nicaraguan advisers be expelled from the country and that OAS and the region’s governments demand Nicaragua to stay out of Venezuelan affairs.

A last effort for abstention

This Friday, Nicolás added another phrase to his long rosary of memorable idiocy: “screwed but happy,” summing up his indolence and shamelessness. Yesterday, ignoring the corruption accusation made by the former president of Odebrecht and the complaint on Nicaraguan interference, he insisted that negotiations with the opposition will resume next week and hoping for the participation of leaders from all parties “because we must debate, at least to show our disagreements”; attributing participation in regional elections to the dialogue that never happened, calling them an accomplishment of “revolutionary democracy” (his favorite oxymoron,) right before turning his attention to signing collective bargaining agreements with public servants and spouting another memorable idiocy: “An union leader who isn’t chavista is unnatural.” If someone’s unnatural it’s him and yet there he is.

Defense in the street

Yesterday, MUD asked citizens to take to the streets next Monday to defend the results of today’s regional elections. National Assembly vice-president Freddy Guevara also urged the people to report on every incident that takes place during the electoral process: “We’re ready to denounce and react to any attempt that seeks to twist people’s will,” he said. Additionally, lawmaker Miguel Pizarro said that voting center relocations and other obstacles won’t diminish citizen participation, saying that people are ready to go wherever necessary in order to vote: “if you were relocated, don’t worry: go to your usual voting center because there will be people there ready to help you and take you wherever you have to vote,” he remarked. Pizarro urged citizens not to believe WhatsApp cadenas and focus on organization instead.

Huge turnout

CNE authority Luis Emilio Rondón asked Venezuelans to verify their information on the institution’s webpage and urged them to vote: “You have the opportunity to be lead characters of this election. Go out in massive numbers to exercise your political right,” adding a request for table members to attend the installation of polling stations as early as possible and cooperate so that the process runs smoothly. He also asked them to remain in their posts during vote counting as well as citizen verification audits at the end of the process, remarking that it’s a public event and that helps increase transparency levels. Lastly, he demanded compliance with the amount of ballots that must be printed: for CNE, for the voting table’s head and for the witnesses, restating that polling stations close at 6:00 p.m. or until the last voter in line had voted.

#CNEVetaAPeriodistas

Journalists from various national and international outlets denounced that the CNE didn’t grant them the necessary credentials to cover the elections, a violation against free speech that they expressed on Twitter with the hashtag #CNEVetaAPeriodistas. Espacio Público, an NGO that promotes and defends free speech and the right to information, said: “CNE removes the press from the electoral process.” The Press and Society Institute asked for complaints to be sent to this address: [email protected]. Despite this level of abuse, Ceela spokespeople -the alleged international “observers”- claimed yesterday that the CNE has been operating with transparency.

How to vote

  1. Check your polling station on CNE and MUD webpages, calling the 0800votemos or sending a text message to 2637.
  2. If your station was relocated, there will be people in your usual station who will tell you where you’re voting now and may even take you there.
  3. Carry your original ID card, doesn’t matter if it’s expired, and identify yourself at your voting table.
  4. Choose your candidate directly on the machine’s screen; wait until your selection is marked in marked in green and press the word “Vote”.
  5. Wait for your vote’s voucher and verify that it shows the candidate you chose. If so, place the voucher in the box.
  6. Once again with your ID card, one of the table’s members will point out a line on the records book showing your information, in order for you to sign and place your fingerprint. Remember there won’t be indelible ink this time.

Change starts with reports

Transparencia Venezuela is a NGO specialized in promoting conditions and procedures to prevent and reduce corruption. In the case of elections, this includes: delays in opening voting stations; problems with credentials for witnesses and table members; technical issues with voting machines; propaganda in public areas; the use of tactics such as “Operación Morrocoy”; political intimidation (pro-regime motorizados, red stations, etc.); inadequate behaviour of Plan República members; inappropriate use of public resources and closing voting tables earlier than scheduled. They established several channels for you to get in touch with them: their cellphone app “Dilo Aquí,” the e-mail: [email protected]; the Twitter account @NoMasGuiso and the phone numbers: 0412-312-2629 and 0416-612-2629.

Even with the best table members, forcing big electoral stations into smaller areas will slow down the process! Get ready for long lines and do it with the same precautions you took while protesting: headwear, water, sun screen, something to eat and a charged phone; patience and convictions can’t be carried in a backpack, but they will be decisive.

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