A last-minute illegal rule change has removed the last shred of transparency from the October 7 presidential elections, effectively turning the country into an “electoral dictatorship.”
With opposition candidate Henrique Capriles appearing the likely winner in the October 7 presidential elections in Venezuela, and incumbent president Hugo Chávez repeatedly having asserted that he will never allow himself to be removed from power, the regime has now announced illegal last minute changes to the election procedures, which may allow for large-scale but un-detectable election fraud, according to Voto Limpio.
Election experts at Voto Limpio warn that these last-minute changes to the election rules may be designed to allow the regime to declare victory regardless of how people actually vote. Under the new rules, neither the printed voter roll, nor the indelible ink will be used to prevent multiple voting, or to verify that a voter is eligible to vote. Instead a “black box” machine will pronounce who gets to vote and who doesn’t. By violating all democratic norms, the rule change itself is thus the proverbial “smoking gun.”
Together with the irregularities in the un-audited voter rolls, widely suspected to contain millions of “zombie voters,” these changes will make it possible for government supporters to vote several times, and for opponents of the government to be denied the opportunity to vote even once. As Joseph Stalin said, “It’s not who votes that counts, but who counts the votes.”
These procedural changes were published August 28, just six weeks prior to the election. The deadline for any changes according to the law is six months. Another illegal change, that time to the election law itself, was made 4 months before of the election: The article that prohibited any device from being attached to the voting machine was changed to allow finger-print scanners to be connected.
Independent tests have revealed that the finger-print scanner was incapable of performing its duty, to assure the principle one person – one vote, yet the regime insisted on using it. There has been suspicion that the purpose of the scanner really was to intimidate fearful voters, given that 8.5 million Venezuelans are directly dependent on government payouts, and given that the regime in the past has denied benefits to persons and family members just for having expressed support for the opposition.
However, with the latest rule change it has become clear that the introduction of the scanner has done away with the traditional methods to check identity and prevent double voting. The new rules say that as long as half the name is correct the person can vote, even if there is no match in fingerprint, or indeed no fingerprint at all. Furthermore, if the machine says that a voter already has voted, that voter will be denied the right to vote, even if there is no record of him/her voting in the voter roll, and even if there is no sign of ink on the finger. The determination of voter eligibility is thus a process into which the opposition or independent election observers have no effective insight or control.
These two patently illegal changes could be a result of Chávez’s poor polling results. Political consultant and analyst Eric Ekvall, who has managed campaigns in Venezuela for several decades, estimates that “Capriles is now leading Chávez by 15 points, taking into account the ‘fear factor’ bias in local polling,” which pollsters attribute to the fact that about one in ten Venezuelans lie to poll interviewers out of fear of being identified as an opponent of Chávez.
Venezuela has used electronic voting since 2004, and has, according to Guillermo Salas – a Venezeulan student of the subject – committed election fraud ever since. The typical procedure has been to hugely inflate the number of votes for the government, while somewhat decreasing it for the opposition. The result is that the number of voters in some areas has become larger than the population.
The latest changes allow for so much arbitrariness that they effectively render the elections meaningless, given that the regime now will have full and complete control over who “wins” the election. The fraud that the regime apparently is preparing is not detectable using traditional election supervision; it would take complete electronic surveillance of all communications to and from all locations involved in the voting and vote count, in order to detect it. Nobody has the access required to effectively supervise these elections.
The fact that Cuba is connected to Venezuela by an optical cable means that the fraud might even be executed in Havana, rather than within Venezuela. The only thing required for a “zombie vote” to be cast at a polling place, making it indistinguishable from a real vote, is a fake ID. All Venezuelan IDs are now issued on Cuba, and it has been reported in media that they are being issued for political purposes, to foreigners, and that multiple IDs have been given to the same person.