Wednesday, July 27, 2005

No more "secret" voting in Venezuela?

Original for this site

One of the criticism made by the Venezuelan electoral board, CNE, is that additional "electronic automatization" is directly endangering the secret of the vote at the polling station. Indeed, now the CNE pretends us to check in first through a lap top that contains the voter registry. That is, from now on the voter will be electronically registered for name AND ARRIVAL TIME. Since the voter will stand in line right then, in the same sequence as s/he arrived at the polling station, it will be very easy to "arrange" the internal registry of the electronic machines to figure out who voted for who. Sumate has made an active web page which shows clearly how the system would work.

This page is in Spanish but with the explanations given above, the non Spanish reader will figure out clearly how the system functions to detect who casts what vote.

There has been enough of an outcry from the part of Sumate that the CNE has announced that the system will be "tested" in only two states for the coming August 7 election. But it is EXTREMELY clear that the Venezuelan system could be rigged for more important elections, such as the parliamentarian of December 2005 or the presidential of December 2006, the ones that Chavez really cares about.

However what is even worse than any eventual cheating by the CNE is that people will be scared. Afraid of losing any social benefit, afraid of receiving any unjust sanction (see the infamous Tascon list with the names of all those who signed against Chavez in August 2004), many opponents of the regime will prefer either to abstain from voting, or feel forced to vote for Chavez. Even if eventually the system is ditched there will be a significant amount of people that will be dubious for quite a while. But then again this is the intention of the regime, isn´t it?

Thus the much vaunted 1999 constitution, allegedlychockfulll of civil rights, is seeing all these rights taken away one by one. The right to call for a recall election has disappeared when people saw that their name was taken by the government and used against them. The right of secret voting seems on the way out. The right to justice has been taken away last year by packing the High Court by Chavez hacks. Etc, etc...

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