A CNE official dropped in for a visit during the hours when I was presidente de mesa of our voting station. Someone on our team asks him, casually, why they had to move voting centers from its original location and the answer killed us because it was so honest:

“We relocated all those that refused to join for the ANC.”

“If a center was to choose which electoral event it was going to participate in,” he said, “then that center couldn’t be trusted.”

It was of the highlights (or low points) of a day full of plot-twists. I’d planned a trip to the beach with the family but, as a matter of habit, I always check my ID on the National Electoral Council’s (CNE) page prior to every election.  Lo and behold, I was on the reserve as team member taking charge of my center.

“We relocated all those that refused to join for the ANC.”

How did I end up as president?

Well, I was told to be at the Ricardo Peñalver voting center, in Chacao, at 5 a.m. on Election Day. I arrived at 5:15; the school where I’ve always voted was part of the CNE’s “nucleación,” a fancy word meaning that it’s been merged with another, less accessible, voting center. This one’s open (unlike many I saw on the way) and, as I enter, the dim light makes for a somber atmosphere — even the Plan República soldiers, here to safeguard the show, are in a dark mood. None of the presidentes de mesa had arrived, so we sit and wait: voting stations cannot be installed without them. Almost an hour later, we get a bathroom, a porta-potty on the sidewalk about 50 meters away from the front door.

Dawn breaks, in walks the first presidente, and off we go.

In Table 7, only two reserve guys show up, including myself. The MUD witness is an outspoken yet pleasant lady and the PSUV witness is a nice man in his 40s. The CNE operator is an 18 year old firecracker and the presidente de mesa is the most confounding member of the team; she clashes with the PSUV witness right away, over non-existent issues with his attitude, which, up to that point had been flawless. Then she gets into it with the CNE operator, and things really start to heat up. She berates her for being constantly on that phone (true), and how that’s affecting her work (false). The CNE coordinator is called, and she explains to everybody that the operator has to be on her phone constantly, to “send important codes to the CNE.” Our dear leader is having none of it, though; and as soon as the coordinator leaves, she resumes the back-and-forth with the operator.

Eventually, it’s enough; the firecracker operator contacts a CNE Supervisor, asking for the removal of the presidente. At this stage, I was a jack-of-all-trades in our table, but with our president removed, I found myself nominated for the spot. Being honest with you, it was intimidating, but it also gave me a front row seat to the show… I mean, process.

The CNE coordinator is called, and she explains to everybody that the operator has to be on her phone constantly, to “send important codes to the CNE.

One of the first things you notice is how the CNE logistics team had their personnel well fed and hydrated, ignoring us simple folk. A small team of very motivated MUD volunteers had a never-ending string of food and drinks available for everyone, thank God. This helped smooth out the political differences and everyone got their share.

At 5:00 pm, the stream of voters slowed down to a trickle. I was no longer the acting president — the real one had groveled her way back to the table, but my tenure was truly eye-opening. The process is crazy strenuous. Our PSUV witness, now friends with everyone at the station, showed his expertise and technical prowess in the closing stages of the show. Everything is checked and double checked, everyone gets his or her copy of the totals and actas. Three ballot boxes are picked at random for manual counting, and they’re audited vote by vote against the tally. Then these results are given to both the MUD and the PSUV, and both witnesses and the presidente de mesa have to sign on everything.

That was the biggest twist of all, our Cotillón Electoral was flawlessly prepared and the actas system is impressive. It makes the whole thing seem clean for everyone involved… and maybe that’s where the devil’s at.

17 COMMENTS

  1. Wait a minute, didn’t Tibisay C. Lucena tell us those voting centers were moved for security reasons? Can’t possibly be that the regime would lie to the voters.

  2. With all of the complaints many of us make about the editorial line here at CC, I gotta tell you:

    Just about everyone who writes for and posts on this site are leagues above mainstream media when it comes to VZ. Seriously, I read articles from respected publications, websites, etc., and they don’t seem to ever know the complete picture, the details, the history, the background, etc. It’s all very shallow analysis.

    It’s like they assign someone to a story, and that guy researches and writes it in a day. Unlike just about all of us here who have been breathing this (many/most LIVING it), since 1998.

    So after many of us busting Quico’s balls here the last few days, I want to congratulate him for creating the ONLY website on earth delicated to true, in-depth VZ coverage.

    The best in either English OR Spanish.

  3. I second that motion.

    Much of what’s published about the country is from journalists who’ve never set foot in the country or who spent a week in Caracas.

    As for Quico, he’s a big boy who doesn’t mind dishing it out and therefore should expect it to come back his way from time to time.

  4. Ira – Not the only web site. Here’s an article by Carlos Sabino for PanAm Post: https://panampost.com/carlos-sabino/2017/10/19/90457/

    Reuters covers some solid market-related economic events, in spite of being generally left-wing as a web site.

    Personally, I was somewhat gratified by Carlos Sabino’s article since he wrote some things I recognized and still hold as true (e.g. the socialist tilt in Venezuela). He may know more than just that one article, but the socialist effort in V. goes back to well before the late 1990’s. And the tilt towards socialism has been or was a major theme here for quite some time, predicated on being “an oil country” in which the population for generations has come to expect “the government” to give them wealth – personally, I suspect, in many instances. And I understand that the article is not about LatAm’s notorious “winking” at even blatant corruption, penchant for military dictatorships, and the like.

    Still … I look at this before deciding to post, and realize once again … there is not even a hint at a solution to the current crisis in any of this.

    The last line in the topic article seems to spell things out for attention: “It makes the whole thing seem clean for everyone involved … and maybe that’s where the devil’s at.”

  5. And this is in Caracas. Everyone wants to help in Chacao, which makes less than 0,0014% of Venezuela’s territory.

    Thing is simple: the percentage of actas we have been able to hold has fluctuated a lot but most of the time it has been far from optimal particularly in 99% of Venezuela.

    I recommend you to look for Quico’s interview of Juan Carlos Caldera from December 2007. That Juan Carlos Caldera proved in 2012 to be a not very kosher or Catholic, what with the bribe affair.

    Back in 2007 Caldera said we had almost all the actas and everything was fine.
    You can listen to that interview now.

    Before that interview, I had told Quico we did not have many of the actas and that there was cheating wherever possible. I had listened to plenty of people who were acting as witnesses in tough areas in Carabobo. These people often had a fraction of a fraction of the support people count for granted in teeny tiny Chacao, they have to be after night in very dangerous places far from anywhere safe, have no car, etc and hardly have means to get the actas to where it matters WHEN it matters. He dismissed that and call my take ‘anecdotal’ (but considered Caldera’s word as to be trusted).

    I have listened to old Belgians remembering vote ‘optimization’ back in the sixties…that was happening in Western Europe and it was not supposed to happen in Venezuela? Not even if it was already happening in rural areas of Venezuela during adeco time?

    Fraud has been taking place on a larger scale now that we have ‘e voting’ because the actas are seen as ‘verify only if there is something funny’
    and that verification hardly happened anywhere but in the most central areas. Actas are like sea food in earlier times: if not delived on time totally worthless.

    It is remarkable that Andrés Velázquez’s team managed to get the material they go now, with so many broken cars, so little money. Perhaps it helped Chavistas got more careless there and did not think it would make a difference if they were caught red handed.,,perhaps they are right after all.

    Back in 2003 during the signature collection I helped in one of the difficult places in Carabobo and we got involved in a car race with chavista thugs who wanted our material. We were lucky we had several cars, which is not what most in those areas had.

    • Excellent, Kepler. The electoral system CAN work where there are diligent/non-threatened Oppo witnesses (less than 50% of voting centers); tiny Chacao is an anomaly….

  6. Good post Kepler. It’s important for foreign readers in particular to understand just how dangerous this country is and how that aids the regime in covering their election fraud tracks.

    As for the concerns chavismo might have about being caught red-handed, I think the fraud of 31 July and this latest one prove that’s a non-issue with them.

    • A tiny explosive, a kind of fireworks.

      Those things can hurt a lot when aimed directly at the face of unarmed and unprotected people (Such as the 100% of opposition people)

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