Opposition leader Henrique Capriles has given falsified evidence to support his claims that there was fraud in Venezuela’s presidential elections on Sunday.
At a press conference on Tuesday, the opposition candidate listed several examples that he claimed were evidence of “irregularities” in the electoral process and in the vote count, and presented a series of slides to national and international media.
However, several of the examples given by Capriles as evidence of fraud are clearly false, as can be seen by consulting the results on the National Electoral Council’s (CNE) website.
As one example, Capriles listed three separate voting centers in which he claimed Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro had gotten much higher results than Hugo Chavez had gotten in the previous presidential elections.
Capriles claimed that this was implausible, since overall Maduro did not get as many total votes as Chavez.
“In one voting center in Yaracuy, Maduro got 1000 percent more votes than Chavez did. How can anyone believe that?” he said.
However, the results from last year’s election show that the three voting centers that Capriles gave as examples were cases in which all the votes from that center had not yet been registered in 2012’s results when the election was called for Chavez, leading to an extremely low vote count from those centers for both candidates.
In the Yaracuy voting center, for example, a total of only 9 votes out of 75 were registered in 2012’s elections, 7 for Hugo Chavez and 2 votes for Henrique Capriles.
However, on Sunday all the votes from this center were registered before the election was called, leading to 73 votes for Nicolas Maduro, and only 6 votes for Henrique Capriles.
The same situation can be seen for the examples Capriles gave in Merida (2012 vs. 2013), and Nueva Esparta (2012 vs. 2013), centers at which there was a very low vote count in 2012.
Given the unusually low vote count in these centers in 2012, the votes for both candidates drastically increases when compared to 2013’s results.
In the Merida voting center, for example, votes for Capriles also increased by nearly 1000 percent, and were also much higher than the number of votes for Chavez from that center in 2012.
Other examples given by Capriles were also fabricated by manipulating the numbers of different vote tallies.
Capriles claimed that in some cases there were more votes than total voters registered at that voting center. However, the only example provided by Capriles is also false.
Capriles said that at a voting center in the state of Trujillo the number of voters for this center was 536, but that a total of 717 votes were tallied. However, CNE’s results for this voting center show only 369 votes were tallied, not 717.
Communications Minister Ernesto Villegas explained during a press conference last night that Capriles had erroneously added together the votes from two separate voting tables, but was using the voter rolls from only one of the two tables.
To counter Capriles claims, government officials have pledged to publish online at the PSUV’s website all of the actual vote tallies from the thousands of voting centers around the country so that the public can see that the official results line up with the individual vote tallies.
Electoral witnesses from the Capriles campaign presumably signed off on all of the vote tallies, as they would have been present at the voting centers at the closing of the polls on Sunday.
The nature of Venezuela’s electoral system makes the kind of fraud alleged by Capriles nearly impossible. Witnesses from both sides are present at every voting center around the country, and a random hot audit of 54 percent of the votes is conducted at all of the centers in the presence of all witnesses immediately after the polls close.
The paper receipts that each voter deposits in a sealed box are counted to assure that they line up with the tally from the voting machines, and all witnesses sign the tallies to certify that they witnessed the audit.
However, Capriles claimed yesterday that his witnesses were forcibly ejected, often at gunpoint, from nearly 300 voting centers around the country on Sunday.
No evidence was provided for this claim, and no independent reports of this happening were registered by any major media outlets on the day of the elections.
Pro-Chavez political commentator Mario Silva responded to the claim last night by questioning how this could have happened without anyone noticing.
“Do you really believe that hundreds of witnesses could be forcibly removed from the voting centers without anyone saying anything? Why haven’t any of those witnesses made a denunciation or talked to the media?” he said.
Capriles has pledged to turn over all of his “evidence” of fraud to the National Electoral Council for review, and pledges to continue to demand a recount, or that the election be annulled.
The government has reported that 7 people have been killed so far in the violence that erupted around the country after Capriles claimed the elections were fraudulent.
NOTE: Due to recent attacks from hackers, the National Electoral Council’s website linked to in this article is not currently accessible from outside Venezuela. It should be available in the coming days.