How’s May 20 Going?

A special (un)election briefing for Sunday, May 20, 2018. Translated by Javier Liendo.

Photo: Javier Liendo

How’s May 20 Going?

The day started with three important pieces of information: several reports about voting table members failing to turn up, so voting stations opened later than anticipated; many table witnesses refused to assume that responsibility, some alleging that the weren’t trained for that task and citing low voter turnout, comparing not the visibility of voter flows, but the statistics of previous processes. However, PSUV campaign command chief Jorge Rodríguez said at 10:00 a.m. that over two and a half million Venezuelans had voted, defying the accounts of so many regarding low turnout.

Red stations

All digital media report voters registering in red stations; some explain the process, others their reasons to vote and others the reasons to register. Going against the words of CNE chairwoman Tibisay Lucena, who said that they should be installed at no less than 200 meters from polling stations, and the commitment assumed by Nicolás to comply with this request, one of the points of the agreement of electoral guarantees, which PSUV and its candidate violate at leisure. There are also reports of journalists claiming to have seen longer lines to scan carnets de la patria than to vote. And there are minor but no less questionable reports of red stations that were installed just a few meters from the voting station or, in cases such as Liceo Miguel Antonio Caro, that were right inside the school itself. On top of scanning the carnet, voters have to answer several questions in the red stations, regarding the reception of social benefits and their commitment to “drag” other voters.


Candidates Javier Bertucci and Henri Falcón have denounced the presence of red stations and their activities, not just because they disrespect distance restrictions, but because once again, they’ve served to coerce voters. “We can hardly acknowledge the results of an election in which the agreement of guarantees have been disrespected,” said Bertucci; adding that there’s no freedom for the exercise of the right to vote and that today’s isn’t a democratic process. Falcón denounced that “voters are offered Bs. 10 million for each scan (…) the people can’t allow their conscience to be bought like this,” cautioning that all abuses are documented. When Nicolás formalized his candidacy on February 27, he said: “All opposition candidates have guarantees, the only guarantee that I’ll never grant them is that they could take these elections from me. Do you want me to give you the electoral guarantees so you can win? Never.”

Answering complaints

Tibisay Lucena claimed: “We’re processing all the complaints we’ve received about red stations. We’re reviewing an assisted vote complaint in San Francisco, Zulia state (…) Bring us the complaints because we’re processing them immediately.” Meanwhile, rector Luis Emilio Rondón said: “I demand that Maduro’s campaign immediately remove red stations at least 200 meters from polling centers, to guarantee the proper development of the process.” None of them mentioned the complaints of Plan República officers preventing the press from accessing voting stations, even though they have the necessary credentials.

The Broad Front

“Only 12% of the electoral registry (RE) had voted by 11:00 a.m., a figure that’s substantially belore the amount of voters -24% of the RE- who had turned out to vote by that same time in all prior electoral processes in the last five years,” says the Broad Front’s report, based on statistically representative voting stations for previous electoral results. 12% is equal to 2.2 million voters. José Virtuoso, rector of the Andrés Bello Catholic University, added: “We only as that you do what you’re going to do with conscience, after you’ve assessed the arguments for and against voting, rejecting blackmails and intimidation, because the country depends on our individual decision,” emphasizing that these elections don’t comply with the demands of a conventional process. The Broad Front promised a report by the end of the afternoon.

Other incidents

  • Another serious violation of electoral agreements is that voters were in fact migrated, not massively like in recent processes, but there were people who were relocated to other voting stations.
  • As if he had any authority to speak about the matter, former Ecuador president Rafael Correa claimed that turnout was close to 30% in the first few hours.
  • Former Spanish president José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero visited a voting center in Chacao municipality and was booed out. The effect? He had a bodyguard sent by Nicolás for the following statement.
  • Imposed prosecutor general Tarek William Saab, who only posted four tweets about the situation at SEBIN HQ, issued a statement this Sunday about the amount of Prosecutor’s Office officials deployed for the “great electoral party”; cautioning that the results must be “respected and complied with” and that “there have only been minor incidents”; in other words, just minor red stations.
  • Despite the turnout levels announced by PSUV, the State’s media machine hasn’t stopped calling people to vote, with notable interviews where some people cautioned that: “Those who don’t vote can’t complain.”
  • Chavista voters also complained about the amounts announced on text messages they receive after voting. The alleged offer was Bs. 10 million, but the SMS says they’ll get a Bs. 1.5 million bonus instead.

Naky Soto

Naky gets called Naibet at home and at the bank. She coordinates training programs for an NGO. She collects moments and turns them into words. She has more stories than freckles.