2018 Presidential Elections
Press conference on Venezuelan election results, May 21, 2018.
Our delegation participated in elections monitoring for
May 20, 2018 Presidential elections, and was composed of members
of Unifor, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation, the
Canadian Union of Postal Workers, The United Church, Common
Frontiers and Rabble.ca.
Members were on the ground from May 14-22 and visited
communities, had meetings with human rights groups, labour
leaders, victims of the violence of the Guarimbas, elected officials,
constitutional experts and other Venezuelans. Our delegation
visited about half a dozen polling stations across Caracas in El
23 de Enero, Santa Teresa [and] La Guaira y El Valle.
At these polling stations, we witnessed people lined up
outside and sitting inside waiting to vote -- always in an orderly
manner. Voters had access to unobstructed voting in total secrecy
and representatives of opposition parties were present at all
polling centers and tables we visited. We spoke to both
government and opposition supporters and none indicated any real
issues with the voting process.
The consistency and organization across polling
locations that we visited reinforced that the training and
oversight produced a fair election. We witnessed a transparent,
secure, democratic and orderly electoral and voting process.
Venezuela has a strong participatory democracy and we
a glimpse of that as we observed people engaged in political
debate in the streets and saw political graffiti and presidential
candidates' signs on street walls and on lamp posts across the
As in the past, the National Electoral Council (CNE)
overseen a process that demonstrates organization, access to
information for voters, security, identification authentication,
automation and oversight.
In this report we summarize many complaints by the
parties regarding the voting process but we did not witness any
of the allegations put forward by the opposition.
Our delegation was impressed by the electoral process
felt confident that the results of the elections represent the
will of the majority of Venezuelans who voted.
Venezuela has a strong and vibrant democracy and the
elections on May 20th was one important step in that process.
The delegation's collective experience with election
observation expands six countries around the world, including:
Haiti (1990), South Africa (1994), Bolivia (2009), Honduras (2013), and
Venezuela (2004 and 2010).
On May 20, 2018 Venezuelans went to the polls to elect
President as well as 502 Municipal and State Legislative Councils
for a term of, 2019-2025.
Originally, the CNE had set the date of the elections
April 22, 2018 at the request of the National Constituent
Assembly (Asamblea Nacional Constituyente). However, on March 1,
2018, the Electoral Power postponed the elections to May 20, to
coincide with the election of the Municipal and State Legislative
Historically, elections in Venezuela are held in
coincide with the inauguration of the new president, which
according to the constitution should be in January. However, in
February of 2018 after the conclusion of peace negotiations
between the Venezuelan government and the opposition, a key
demand of the opposition was to hold elections as early as
The Venezuelan presidential elections were held in the
context of extreme external pressure and interference. The
elections had been condemned
by Canadian and U.S. governments, and several
neighbouring governments. In a speech to the Organization of
American States on May 8, U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence called
the election a "sham" and demanded it be suspended. Canada's
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, called the
election "illegitimate" that "entrenches a dictatorial
The head of the National Electoral Council (CNE),
Lucena, called the attacks against the CNE political, not based
on facts but rather following the narrative of the extreme
right-wing opposition. "The vote can't be underestimated, least
of all by anti-democratic media that try to impede the electoral
It is important to note that the opposition Democratic
Roundtable (MUD) coalition boycotted the elections because
they felt that the conditions were not conducive for elections,
and because the election date was not subject to the laws of the
Signing of the Electoral Guarantees
Presidential candidates agreed to move forward with the
enhanced electoral guarantees agreement. The agreement included,
among other things, challenges to pro-government "red points"
controlled by Chavistas (which had to be moved farther away from
voting centers), a call for international observers, and the
return of voting center locations changed during the election of
the Constituent Assembly and the 2017 regional elections.
The Electoral Power agreed to these concession to the
parties, candidates and the public as part of a national
reconciliation strategy. On the same day of the signing of the
agreement, Tibisay Lucena, President of the CNE, confirmed that
the period of registration for presidential candidates had ended.
At that point, there were six registered candidates for the
presidential elections: current President Nicolás Maduro, Henri
Falcón, Reinaldo Quijada, Francisco Visconti, Luis Alejandro
Ratti, and Javier Bertucci.
Once the date was set by the CNE an official timetable
released that outlined the electoral timetable from April 22,
2018 until midnight on May 17, 2018.
National Electoral Scenario
On January 25, 2018, the Constitutional Chamber of the
Supreme Court of Justice Venezuela (TJV) ruled to exclude the MUD
coalition from participating in the presidential elections. The
(TSJ) stated that the MUD's structure, the grouping of various
political organizations, violated the electoral process. The
court explained, "In the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela one
cannot be a member of two political parties at the same time,
because the interests of one and the other could coincide in some
aspects, but there will always be distinctions, which make this
unethical and inoperative."
That same month, party leaders of the MUD, Democratic
(AD), Voluntad Popular (VP) (Popular Will) and Progressive
Advance (AP), as well as spokespersons from these organizations,
announced that they would participate in the presidential
elections. Juan Pablo Guanipa, Andrés Velásquez, Claudio
Henry Ramos Allup and Henri Falcón announced their candidacy by
convening primary elections within the coalition.
After nearly two years of peace negotiations between
government and the opposition parties, an agreement was reached
in early February 2018, called "Agreement of Democratic Coexistence for
Venezuela." It established a
political, economic, and
social framework to solve the country's problems. Included in the
agreement was a date for elections and extended electoral
That same week former U.S. Secretary of State Rex
while on a tour of Latin America openly called for regime change
On February 21 some coalition parties announced a
the elections while other members like Progressive Advance (AP)
did not boycott. "The premature and unconditional event that is
announced for April 22, 2018 is just a show of the government to
pretend a legitimacy that it does not have,"
said opposition coordinator Angel
Oropeza at a press conference.
Reactions to Electoral Opposition
Some opposition candidates' ban from taking part in the
elections, was due to administrative and criminal proceedings
against them. Henrique Capriles, candidate in the elections of
2012 and 2013 is barred for 15 years for "administrative
irregularities" which include taking suspicious donations from
abroad while he was governor.
Leopoldo López, is serving
almost 14 years for the 2014 protests that resulted in the deaths
of 43 people following his calls for street protests. Others,
like María Corina Machado are accused of being the ring leaders
in a plot to assassinate President Nicolás Maduro and Major
General Miguel Rodríguez Torres, a dissident chavista, are now
imprisoned for alleged conspiracy "against the constitution and
of sowing division within the armed forces."
The National Constituent Assembly did not re-validate
political parties of the opposition because they did not
participate in the municipal elections of 2017. Under the ANC's
new rules, parties must undertake a reapplication process if they
didn't participate in the "immediately previous" election. To
participate in the national, regional or municipal electoral
processes, political parties must have participated in the
immediately previous elections of the constitutional period at
the national, regional or municipal level.
The Democratic Action (AD) party was successful in
registering. The Popular Will (VP) and the Partido Unión y
Entendimiento (Puente) (Union and Understanding Party) parties
refused to do so, while Primero Justicia (PJ) (First Justice) did
not meet the requirements to go to the "repair" period.
President Maduro said on several occasions that
elections was a demand from the Venezuelan opposition and global
right wing who had spent more than a year asking for early
The opposition declared that the government had moved
elections taking advantage of a disorganized opposition and the
social and political climate that benefited the government.
Electoral System and Process
a. Electoral Registry
The Venezuelan Electoral Registry determines the number
people who are eligible to vote. From it are chosen voters that
partake in the mandatory electoral service at polling stations.
In 2018, 531 polling stations were opened.
On February 15, President Maduro announced an extension
voter registry. This resulted in approximately 1 million new
voters being able to register for the elections.
b. Registration of Voters
A total of 20,527,571 registered voters were eligible
participate in the elections of the president while only
18,919,364 were eligible to vote for legislative councils.
c. The complete system of electoral guarantees included
1. Technical audits of the
automated system, with the
presence of three representatives from each political
2. Security of the electoral process
4. International accompaniment
Specifically, for this process, the following audits
- Printout of the voting
- Since 2015, an
was made to the number of votes with fingerprint that can be done
at each voting machine.
- As of 2015, audits of the voting
process are transmitted online and can be seen anywhere around
- The invitation of international technical
- A mock election is run on a sample of voting
machines one week in advance of the election.
telecommunications audit is conducted during all phases.
In accordance with the electoral timetable and members
political organizations, experts of the CNE carried out a draw to
choose randomly voters who would serve in regional meetings,
municipal boards and polling stations during the elections of May
20, 2018. Also, in early March a new phase of voter registry and
updates to voter data was initiated.
The Voting Process
Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela establishes citizen
participation as the main part of their democracy and designates
the National Electoral Council (CNE) as the governing body of any
election process. The process remains the same for each electoral
event. The country's electoral cycle consists of several stages,
1. Electoral Laws and
2. Registration of
Parties and Candidates,
3. Audits and Voting Process,
of Votes, Results and subsequent audits,
Since 2004, the electoral process in Venezuela is fully
automated in all of its phases. To date, 13 elections have been
held with the same system. Voting centres open their doors from
6:00 am to 6:00 pm, though they remain open as long as there
are voters waiting to vote. The process is carried out following
the traditional method of what is called the "electoral
Venezuela's election process has been lauded by
organizations and observers not only for its high turnout, but
also for the transparency and checks involved in the voting and
scrutiny. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said: "Of the 92
elections that we've monitored, I would say that the election
process in Venezuela is the best in the world." Below are all the
elements involved in the vote.
Requirements and Eligibility
Venezuelans who are 18 years of age or older are
vote in an election, after registering.
Venezuelans living abroad are also eligible to vote,
meeting these requirements.
Article 63 of the constitution says: ‘Suffrage is a
is exercised through free, universal, direct and secret
The law will guarantee the principle of individuality
suffrage and proportional representation.'
Security and Guarantees
utilize the latest in secure
technology to ensure that each vote is counted fairly and cannot
be tampered with. It was the first in the world to use voting
machines that print a receipt so that each voter can confirm
their vote with a physical copy.
Beginning in 2012, Venezuela's elections used biometric
authentication to activate the voting machine.
The current voting machines in use are the Smartmatic
Auditable Election System (SAES) by Smartmatic, which are 100
per cent auditable at each stage.
The final vote count is confirmed with the physical
that voters put in the receipt box, and then transmitted
electronically through a network isolated from the internet and
any computer to assure that no interference can happen.
The vote will be witnessed and audited by international
national political observers, technicians and political
organizations. The National Electoral Council has invited the
United Nations and the Caribbean Community (Caricom) to send
representatives to observe the process.
Poll Closing and Tally Scrutinization
Polls are closed at a polling station only after
line to vote has voted.
Once tally scrutinization on the machine finishes, a
paper ballot audit is announced where the machines to be audited are
randomly selected drawing numbers, and the machine's serial
number is recorded. The paper ballot box corresponding to the
machine is also selected and opened and the results for each
candidate are openly counted.
This is compared and audited with the original tally
from the electronic results, and any anomaly or discrepancy is
recorded in the audit report.
The original audit report is signed by election poll
and observers from each party present, then sealed and handed to
the military for delivery to the CNE.
Copies of the report are handed over to the
of the two highest vote getters.
These are the five steps involved in voting in
1. When arriving at a polling station, voters are
to the voting table that corresponds to them. At the table, there
is a list with voters' identification card numbers to allow a
person to confirm their table.
2. The voter presents their ID document to the polling
station president, who instructs the operator to register the
voter's data in the system. The voter places his index
fingerprint on the machine to validate their identification and
this in turn opens the machine. The voter is then asked if they
know how to vote, if there is any doubt about the voting process,
the election official explains the steps involved.
3. They exercise their right to vote by pressing the
where their preferred candidate appears and then pressing the
word VOTE that appears at the bottom of the screen. The machine
then prints a receipt of the vote for the voter to confirm.
4. The voter then deposits this receipt in the
5. Finally, the voter signs and places their
the elections voting logbook to confirm that they have voted, and
have a finger marked with indelible ink.
Voting Data Transmission
After the voting process is finalized, the voting
transmitted to the Centro Nacional de Totalization (National
Tallying Centre). After the results have been transmitted, they
are printed and a public audit is carried out on 54 per cent of the
containing the voting ballots. Once satisfied, the witnesses of
the political organizations sign an agreement confirming that the
audit is in order.
The automated voting system has seven instances of vote
- The physical vote.
- The internal memory of each
The removable memory of each machine.
- The voting results of the
- The electronic vote transmitted to the
- The electronic record transmitted to the
- The printed record of voting results.
Five candidates from different political parties
in this presidential election, Nicolás Maduro Moros of United
Socialist Party (PSUV). Henri Falcón of Progressive Advance,
Javier Bertucci of Hope for Change party, Reinaldo Quijada of the
Popular Political Unity and Luis Alejandro Ratti an independent
For more details about the candidates and their
read "Venezuelans heading to the polls have a variety of
candidates to choose from."
The National Electoral Council of Venezuela (CNE)
on Sunday, May 20, the victory of Nicolás Maduro in the
presidential elections. According to the electoral body, there
were 8,603,936 million votes valid on Election Day; with more
than 98.78% of the votes counted, Maduro won with 6,190,612 votes
(67.8%). In second place was the opposition candidate and
ex-governor Henri Falcón, of the Avanzada Progresista (AP)
with 1,917,036 votes (21%). In third place came Javier Bertucci,
of Esperanza por el Cambio (Hope for Change), with 925,042 of the
votes, while Reinaldo Quijada, of the Unidad Popular Política 89
(UPP89), received 34,614 votes of Venezuelans.
The three states with the highest abstention rate
electoral event were Táchira (72.31%), Mérida (63.03%)
Ten states exceeded the average percentage of null
nationally, of 1.9%. Among the three with the highest rates are
Mérida (3.65%), the Capital District (3.53%) and Vargas (2.64%).
Zulia is the state with the lowest number of invalid votes with
0.98%, followed by Sucre and Monagas with 1.28% and 1.41%,
CNE results show that Bertucci obtained more votes than
Falcón in the states of Bolívar and Carabobo. In the
Bertucci obtained 106,520 votes (24.91%), surpassing Falcón, who
was received 61,261 votes (14.32%). In the state of Carabobo, the
difference is smaller: 126,813 votes (18.12%) for Bertucci and
110,489 votes (15.79%) for Falcón. The state of Falcón
third state that most supported Bertucci, with 49,987 votes
The elections saw low voter turn out, reaching only
After being declared the winner, President
invited all candidates and opposition sectors to partake in a
national dialogue to address their differences and find solutions
to the crisis facing the country.
Opposition Candidates Contest Electoral Results
As happens after many elections, opposition candidates
fraud and contest the election results. These elections were no
different; opposition candidates are challenging the electoral
results alleging many irregularities took place.
They must make their case to the National Electoral
(CNE) and have 20 days to submit any documentation.
Henri Falcón was the first candidate to allege
the vote was
"illegitimate" but called for new elections in October. Javier
Bertucci and an official of the CNE Luis Emilio Rondón announced
that they did not recognize the results of the elections since
they considered that they were flawed because Venezuelans'
freedom to exercise their right to vote had been undermined.
The principal complaints by the opposition candidates
on the fact that the government did not comply with an agreement
signed with the candidates and the CNE since:
1. The incumbent Maduro, had an advantage because of
to state resources such as privileged access to domestic media.
"These ruling party advantages did not allow Venezuelans to
express themselves and these factors distorted the will of the
majority of Venezuelans.
2. The "red spots" were supposed to be at least 200
away from the polling stations. Opposition members allege that
some red points were too close, only 5 or 10 metres away and some
even located inside polling stations. It is also alleged that
voters' identity cards were scanned in these socalled red points
and voters were asked for a series of proofs to show that the
person had voted.
3. Assisted voting was condemned as a strategy of the
party. There are more than 142,000 complaints of assisted
4. Witnesses for opposition candidates at polling
were subjected to pressure.
5. Polling stations were not closed at 6:00 p.m. as had
agreed to with the CNE and the Plan Republic.
6. Allegations of witnesses prevented from entering
7. There were also complaints of vote and conscience
The "red spots" located near voting centres have been
the PSUV's mobilization strategy for years. This is also a common
strategy of other parties who set up their own kiosks near voting
centres. Party members are encouraged to check in after voting to
help forecast voter participation. Transport logistics for those
with mobility challenges and food and water for fellow electoral
witnesses at the voting centres are coordinated from these spots.
"It is true that Chavistas scan their government issued Homeland
ID Card, which is also used to coordinate state social programs
such as the CLAP food distribution network. However, voting is
secret in Venezuela and there is absolutely no way for the PSUV
to know how those scanning their cards voted."
The CNE extended
invitations to the United Nations, the
European Union and Organization of American States to monitor the
The CNE invited 150 electoral observers such as former
presidents and prime ministers. In addition, our delegation was
part of a broader international mission of observers that
included over 250 experts from 60 countries around the world,
including electoral technicians, representatives from
non-government organizations, labour experts, and academics.
The consensus from all international observers was
the May 20th presidential elections were fair, transparent and
represented the will of the Venezuelan people.
"I do not have any doubt about the voting process. It
advanced automatic voting system. I come here to keep the peace,
coordinate and promote dialogue to improve the democratic
mechanism here," said Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, former
Spanish Prime Minister and international observer.
"The Venezuelan elections are developing with absolute
normalcy. I've attended four polling stations. There is a
permanent flow of citizenship, with short waiting and voting
times. Very modern system with double control. From what I've
seen, impeccable organization." -- Former Ecuadoran
President Rafael Correa
"100 percent of the electoral poll stations are open,
asked witnesses from various political parties and they have all
emphasized that the elections occurred with normality" --
Carlos Lopez, one of the 150 international observers.
"The international observer mission led by the Council
Electoral Experts of Latin America (CEELA), comprised of former
top electoral officials from the region, quoted "Technically, up
until today, we have not observed any element that can disqualify
the electoral process. We can emphasize that these elections must
be recognized because they are the result of the will of the
Venezuelan people." -- President Nicanor Moscoso
"Elections in Venezuela from an observers view on the
are not only free and fair but are safe, secure, and
"Venezuela's electoral process is highly advanced,
and secure -- producing free and fair elections. The integrity of
Venezuela's electoral system leaves no doubt that the results of
the Presidential elections represents the will of the people." --
Burbano, Program Director, Common Frontiers.
"Our Canadian delegation saw an election that was
run, had good participation, and which had no fraud that was
evident to us. President Maduro has promised a new national
dialogue to achieve some way of living with the opposition. The
problem is that at least since their failed coup attempt in 2002,
most opposition forces have shown little or no interest in any
solution other than either complete capitulation or regime change
through force. Venezuelans merit attention and solidarity as they
find a way forward." -- Jim Hodgson, Latin America program
coordinator, The United Church of Canada.
"What I witnessed in Venezuela's presidential election
2018 impressed me as a thoroughly deliberated and fail safe
election methodology. Venezuela's elections were designed to
exceed the most rigorous international standards in anticipation
of criticism, both logical and spurious. Given the practices we
have recently seen in western democracies in regard to vote
suppression, gerrymandering, and questionable voting
methodologies, Venezuelan electoral practice should be regarded
as the international gold standard." -- Humberto daSilva,
"The election process in Venezuela in a word is
The National Electoral Council (CNE) has overseen a process that
demonstrates organization, access to information for voters,
security, identification authentication, automation and oversite.
Our election processes are far less sophisticated and we could
learn a lot from the CNE." -- Wayne Milliner, Ontario
Secondary School Teachers' Federation.
"There is no doubt in my mind that what I witnessed was
clear expression of the people's democratic will. While groups
such as the Lima Group lead by Canada are screaming fraud and
government interference in the election process, not one shred of
evidence has been produced to back up such claims."
Foreman, Canadian Union of Postal Workers.
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