|04CARACAS3361||2004-10-29 19:14:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Caracas|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L CARACAS 003361
1. (C) The voting process for Venezuela's October 31
regional elections is complicated. In a process akin to the
recall referendum, voters will elect governors, mayors, and
state legislators. Screens will have dozens of options,
which are organized by political parties rather than by
races. The press has reported that the public did not take
advantage of an opportunity to practice voting, and little
personal attention will be available on election day,
according to a CNE official. End summary.
2. (U) Venezuelan voters who go to the polls on October 31
will face an overly complicated process. Voters must first
present their identification card for identification in the
electoral rolls. Poll workers then will take their
fingerprints next to a video monitor that continuously
explains the voting process. Next, CNE representatives will
again explain the voting process and activate the voting
machines. After choosing from a veritable alphabet soup of
candidates and parties, the electors will receive and deposit
a physical ballot verifying their vote. After dipping their
fingers in indelible ink, the voters may leave the polling
3. (U) From 8,509 candidates, Venezuelan voters will elect
22 governors, 336 mayors, and 229 state legislators. Each
voter will have to choose at least four candidates, including
a governor (except in the Federal District, whose chief
executive is called "mayor," and in Amazonas State), a
municipal mayor, and state legislators. Some of legislators
are "list deputies," meaning electors will select parties,
which will receive portions of legislative seats roughly
equal to their proportion of votes. Voters will also choose
"nominal deputies" individually.
Ballots and Screens
4. (U) Rather than organizing the voters' options by each
race, each district's electronic ballot will display numerous
logos of political parties and independent candidates. In
Anzoategui state, for example, the ballot for governor and
state legislators in one electoral district, or
"circunscripcion," has 62 logos. Once voters press to choose
a logo from the electronic ballot, candidates appear on their
computer screen for selection. Voters choose a chief
executive, a "party list," and a number of "nominal"
legislative candidates for their district. (Smaller
districts only have one "nominal" candidate.) Many parties
do not have candidates for all the positions, so some voters
will have to search for different logos before concluding
their vote. After completing this process, voters proceed to
another electronic ballot to select a mayor for their
municipality. This ballot also displays myriad parties, many
of which endorse the same candidate.
5. (U) Candidates who have withdrawn from the race will
still appear on the screens. If the candidate withdrew
before the October 21 deadline, the candidate's votes will go
to a candidate he or she designates. If the candidate
dropped out afterwards, votes for him or her will not count.
According to CNE director Jorge Rodriguez, 194 candidates
have dropped out of the race nationwide.
Inadequate Voter Assistance
6. (U) The CNE sponsored a mock election October 10 to
acquaint the public with the process, but few participated,
according to press. TV and radio have also had regular
government-sponsored "cadenas" to explain the procedures.
Despite the planned presence of explanatory videos at the
polls, a CNE official in Anzoategui State told poloff that
little personal attention would be available on election day.
The CNE has chosen local electoral officials by lot, and,
according to the local official, many of those drafted have
not responded. Press reports add that in some states, few
poll workers have appeared for training.
7. (C) The voting process is slightly less complicated than
programming a VCR, yet national CNE officials insist that it
will work with minimal difficulties. The staid CNE education
campaign, concentrated in the use of ubiquitous "cadenas"
which occupy the airwaves regularly at least three times a
day, has become a droning noise that attracts little
2004CARACA03361 - CONFIDENTIAL