Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) announced yesterday that they would not approve Henrique Capriles’ additional demands for the auditing of the April 14 elections, and explained that he lacks any proof of fraud.
The announcement was made on Saturday night via a televised statement by CNE President Tibisay Lucena.
Lucena explained that the expanded audit process would be carried out as planned, but the additional demands that the Capriles campaign have made in recent days would not be included.
“It is important to note that the political parties already audited the electoral process at each stage, certifying the integrity and correct functioning of the system,” said Lucena.
“Representatives from each party signed off on each one, as can be seen in the documents on the CNE website…there were a total of 18 auditing processes, but now they are being silenced and ignored in an attempt to discredit the electoral process,” she said.
Venezuela’s electoral process includes extensive auditing throughout the entire process, including audits of the computer software, electoral rolls, machine functioning, finger ink, data transmission and vote tallying, with the presence of representatives from all political parties.
However, Capriles requested an additional audit after the elections on April 14th, stating that there had been irregularities and that the election was “stolen”.
After Capriles’ request for an additional audit was approved by the CNE last week, his campaign began to demand a more extensive audit, including a revision of the electoral rolls, which were already audited before the election.
“We announced the decision for an additional audit and Capriles publicly accepted. But in later statements he and his spokespeople said it was not enough, and that a different kind of audit was necessary,” said Lucena.
“They began demanding things that had already been audited by their own representatives, such as the electoral rolls, as the signed documents from those audits clearly show,” she said.
Lucena went on to explain that the Capriles campaign had the right to formally challenge the election before Venezuela’s Supreme Court. However, they would have to show proof that fraud occurred, something she said was lacking among the evidenced submitted by the Capriles campaign.
“[Capriles’ evidence] does not constitute any proof of how votes were affected, nor how the results could have been affected without it showing up in the vote tallies that were audited in each voting center by party representatives,” she said.
Lucena gave several examples from the evidence submitted by Capriles in which no concrete information was provided so that the CNE could investigate.
Apparently, much of the evidence was presented in the same basic format that Capriles used during a press conference last week, in which very general claims were simply printed on sheets of paper.
Lucena said without more specific information there was no way that they could be independently verified, nor could it be confirmed if anyone’s vote was actually affected.
“The documents submitted by Capriles last week do not state clearly and precisely the incidents in which the rules were broken. They do not give the specific voting centers, who was involved, nor what possible damage could have occurred as a result,” she said.
Lucena went on to explain that the additional audit of the remaining 46 percent of ballot boxes will proceed as planned and will begin on May 6th.
Henrique Capriles responded on Sunday to the CNE’s announcement with further criticism of the electoral body.
“It’s impossible for Mrs. Tibisay to do anything against the orders of her political party, the PSUV. The nation would find out the truth!” he wrote via Twitter.
He also said that he would continue to challenge the election results inside Venezuela, and internationally as well.
“Soon we will have new elections. Every day we are stronger!” he continued.
On Saturday, Capriles affirmed in an interview that he would continue the process before Venezuela’s Supreme Court, and then in international institutions if needed.
“We think Venezuela’s Supreme Court has been converted into a court of the government, but we must exhaust all the institutions before taking it before international institutions,” he said.
Venezuelan Ambassador to the United Kingdom Samuel Moncada said that this stance by the opposition is very similar to the situation before the 2002 coup attempt in Venezuela.
“They are going to say that the CNE and the Supreme Court ignored them, and they are going to take it to the Organization of American States (OAS), but after all the legal mechanisms are exhausted they will try the illegal ones, like calling for a general strike,” he said.
“They will take all legal forms to the limit, like they did in 2002, and try to take the movement to its limit so that the Armed Forces will intervene,” he said.