Thursday, October 26, 2006

Of course if they lose they'll still cry fraud 

Preparations for what is increasingly looking like a public execution of the opposition on December 3rd (an electoral execution of course!) are moving ahead.

The key new development is that the elections will be overseen by the O.A.S. The Venezuelan electoral authorities, the C.N.E., are also working on getting an European Union delegation to come.

But the most significant anti-fraud measures are the electoral procedures themselves which when you think about them are quite good. First, the actual election workers in the voting sites have been chosen at random from the electoral lists. Interestingly, those who supported the validity of the Mexican elections last July argued that Mexico choosing poll workers at random all but made fraud impossible.

There is more however. As is well known, the Venezuelan voting machines produce paper receipts that can then be compared to the computer tally. It is this paper trail that allows the result to be audited. And audited it will be. At the end of the voting the computer will print out a tally sheet detailing the results. Only after the tally sheet has been printed and given to all those present, including representatives of political parties, will the voting machine be conected to a telephone line and the results transmitted to the central tabulation center

With the tally sheets in hand the voting center workers will randomly choose 50% of the voting machines to audit by drawing numbers out of a hat. The boxes containing the voting receipts will be opened and tallied to match to the tally the computer printed out.

Now I have never understood why they do a 50% audit. A random sample of just a couple percent, as was done in the Recall Referendum, is more than sufficient to validate the result. The 50% audit is therefore way more than sufficient. However, if you are going to count 50% why not go all the way and count every last ballot? Beats me. I really think that is what they should do. But they don't ask me.

Regardless, any actual fraud in the voting and vote counting process is pretty much ruled out. If someone can figure out how they could rig a vote with such a huge audit sample, with randomly chosen poll workers, and with opposition observers at all polling sites they should speak up.

I think fraud is clearly ruled out by these procedures. Of course, come December 4th the message of the opposition is likely to be "we was robbed". Some things are quite predictable in Venezuelan politics.


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