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Wed Dec 2, 2015, 08:48 PM

Venezuela’s electoral system is being unfairly maligned

Venezuela’s electoral system is being unfairly maligned

Caracas is experiencing rising discontent fueled by economic woes. But it hasn’t had trouble holding clean elections

November 30, 2015 2:00AM ET
by Lauren Carasik - @LCarasik

On Dec. 6 Venezuelans will go to the polls to elect their representatives in high-stakes legislative elections. The vote comes amid international scrutiny over the integrity of the country’s electoral process. The U.S. government, the Organization of American States (OAS) and human rights groups have all called for credible elections. Some in the U.S. media have already indicted the elections’ validity.

But these critics ignore the fact that thousands of domestic observers and hundreds of international monitors from the Union of South American Nations and other groups have already signed on to oversee the elections. It is clear that much of the diplomatic posturing is not meant to protect Venezuela’s electoral integrity but to further delegitimize the government of President Nicolás Maduro.

No election system is perfect, but Venezuela has one of the most efficient, secure and transparent electoral systems. “The election process in Venezuela is the best in the world,” said former President Jimmy Carter in 2012 — praise echoed by other neutral observers.

Venezuelan voters use electronic machines, which print out a paper receipt that allows voters to check their choices against the electronic ballot. After voting has ended, 54 percent of machines are audited at random, in the presence of witnesses from pro-government and opposition political parties, and compared with a tally of paper receipts. The National Electoral Council (CNE) has implemented additional safeguards and audits, making the process more inclusive than ever before, with 96.5 percent of eligible Venezuelans registered to vote (compared with fewer than 76 percent of eligible Americans).


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