Venezuela's recall election drive: tabulating fraud
By Daniel Duquenal
(11.12.03) - I am not a happy camper writing this. Reading some US papers, reading some moronic comments on some blogs (poor Miguel has been the victim of a few these commentators) I feel that I have once again to re-state a few things. I'll do this as an index of sorts and put some color to cheer me up from such a useless task.
FRAUD (Or "mega fraud" if you are a Chavez sympathizer)
Any significant fraud is impossible for the opposition. No matter what Chavez hurls at the opposition, the press and foreign representatives, charges that his minions dutifully echo, large scale fraud is impossible.
To sign you had to show your picture ID, stamp your finger print, write down your signature, imprint your ID number, all of this on safety bond paper issued by the government mint. Fraud of the magnitude that Chavez implies would mean that the opposition somehow would be able to print hundred of thousand of fake ID, get at least a hundred thousand people to go around and sign with one of the several fake ID provided to them. And this in front of all sorts of observers that so far have not reported anything except for an occasional local problem. Among these witness were thousand-S of pro Chavez witnesses and very few of them have reported anything of substance ON THEIR OWN (whatever is said is said through Chavez and then repeated).
Last but not least: the opposition would have to find a way to clone the forged names inside the database of the Electoral Board (CNE) as registered voters. These in a data base that has been monitored for years now. The said database has only 12 million folks so the introduction in a few weeks of 1 million fake registrations surely would be noticed by someone at some point.
Let's not waste anymore time with that. When Chavez screams fraud he is trying to gain time for something else. And even if "some" fraud would happen it would not affect enough signatures to jeopardize the total numbers of signatures needed to call a recall referendum.
Though I am quite tempted to report some of the fraud signaled on the governmental signature drive, which, rumor has, is still running in some ministries offices. It shows the maturity of the opposition: let them do as they please, we only care about the referendum on Chavez.
This was a doozie in some newspapers and lefty commentators. For example the Chicago Tribune did question the whole process because the opposition was honest enough to report that it did not reached enough to recall all of the assembly members it intended to recall. Let's examine this a little bit.
To figure out how many people did sign one must do first a visual screening of each form. These forms have 10 lines. If there has been an error, one line is totally crossed. One or two of the last lines might not have been filled up because it was closing time. Etc… In other words, one valid form does not mean 10 valid signatures.
The totals were transmitted by phone to Caracas. Confusion between number of "forms" and number of "signatures" must have happened more than once.
A 2-3 % on error in reporting forms could quickly become a 10-20% error in assessing the number of signatures, since any form wronlgy reported becomes up to 10 signatures wrongly reported.
The initial reports, as I wrote here in "estimates" were hinting at crossing the 4 million mark. 10% of 3.6 million is 360.000. 3.6 + 0.36 = anything close to 4 million. Of course within a day or two of closer scrutiny, with cooler heads and sharper eyes, the high 4 million had to drop: incomplete forms, errata in forms, exact number of forms, etc… And we get the 3.6 million signatures, a number that has been steady for now a week and that should be confirmed within a few days once the opposition delivers the forms to the Electoral Board (CNE).
Meanwhile where is the foreign press (from the BBC to the Chicago Tribune) these days to scrutinize the chavista signatures that went down for an heralded 7+ million by the Vice president to pretty much nowhere as I write?
THE OPPOSITION FIASCO: 'CAUSE THEY DID NOT COLLECT WHAT THEY SAID THEY WOULD.
This is my favorite. As recently as this morning on Triangulo, the serious talk show of Televen at 7 AM, William Lara ex-president of the National Assembly was declaring that in the halls of the National Assembly the opposition deputies were bragging that they were going to get 8 million signatures (we only have Lara's word for it). Since they did not get them, then they have failed. "Who cares if they did get 3.6?!" would be what Mr. Lara wants us to think
Let's reconsider the event by itself.
1) giving all your privacy rights to sign against Chavez is quite a biggie. If the guy manages to remain in office, better not start looking for a job in the public administration. This is serious: too numerous reports to count are surfacing every day of people that got fired from civil service because they signed last week or in February. And I will not repeat the threats made by Chavez and associates in the days going to the signature collection. All of this is public knowledge in Venezuela.
2) military were forbidden to sign. Public employees were forbidden to sign. People waiting for governmental licenses did not go and sign. People waiting for public housing did not sign. Etc. 100 000? 300 000? A million? Add that up to the supposed 3.6 million collected.
3) where in the world have we ever seen 20% people sign for a recall election, let alone 25 or 30%? Even California had all the trouble to reach the 10%.
4) the electoral population is 12 million including 100 of thousand of dead people not purged yet from the rolls. And a couple of million that will never vote no matter what. Assemblyman Lara should worry that the 3.6 million who signed might indeed be 36% of the "real" electorate. If for one who would vote against Chavez signed one did not sign, could we speculate the 72% mark against Chavez? Maybe not but a good campaign from the opposition could lock the hard core 50%. Chavistas can do simple arithmetic.
Voilà! I hope this helped! Feel free to pass around to your favorite pro-Chavez person.
I think that chavistas know real well what is going on, even if they are in utter outside denial. That they are following a tight script is painfully visible. Televen this morning had also assemblyman Rondon who had almost as tight a face as Lara and who repeated the same lines all over again. Lines given Sunday 7 by the Great Leader himself and dutifully repeated almost to a comma. We are watching a written script whose simple objective is to derail the road to the referendum, at the cost of mobilizing its supporters from some last minute desperate and violent move.
Heady days ahead.
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