The one from the government, that is!
Before I start let me remind you what the signature process was like, as of the rule of the Electoral Board, CNE, approved BEFORE the signature collection drive.
A form consisted of 10 lines. The form included information about the ID of the petitioner, and the last two items were the signature and thumbprint.
15% of the forms were for “itinerant” collectors that traveled to hospitals, schools, housewives, etc… people that had trouble going during working hours to the signature collection centers. The itinerant collector was accompanied by a witness from the other side. And the itinerant supposedly would be filling a lot of the data, letting the person sign and print its thumb. A service.
My direct personal experience:
I did collect one of these itinerants and the chavista witness to visit a relative that could not sign. The itinerant filled up the form, had my relative sign and print, showed everything to the chavista witness and I took both of them back in my car to the gathering center. All of us smiling and happy. NO FRAUD.
My parents, 78 and 70, went to sign on Sunday 11/30/2003. As elderly people needing glasses they were offered to have somebody fill up the form for them. They gave their ID, watched as the form was filled up and read that everything was right. Then they signed and printed their thumb. NO FRAUD.
Well, according to the new rules, approved 3 to 2 yesterday, these three signatures are invalid now and they will have to go to a CNE office to state that they indeed signed and give again they finger print and ID. In other words it is not for the state to prove that they committed fraud, it is for them to defend their good name!!!!!!!!!!!
But it gets worse
If a form has more than one series of data filled up with the same handwriting, ALL THE PEOPLE IN THAT FORM MUST GO TO THE CNE! That is, myself, if more than one person asked their data to be filled up, might have to go to the CNE EVEN IF I filled up all my data myself. Though this is still not official and will be decided sometime this week.
However what has been announced is that all the signatures will be published in the papers! This special edition will be like a phone book and EVERYONE will know who sign for each one. The end, once and for all of the right to secret vote!!!!! A sure way to end democracy as now Chavez will have on his desk a list of all his perceived “enemies” and will eb able to do whatever he wants to punish them.
This is really terrible and the OAS and Carter Center in last ditch effort have offered yet again a new way of testing for these questioned forms, by methods that have been proven to be fair in other countries. But chavismo thinks that it has re-invented the wheel and I doubt that the OAS and the Carter Center will do much headway there. After all this is not about fairness, it is more about revenge, and it is not silly state it so. Carrasquero and Rodriguez, in spite of his declarations this morning, have revealed themselves mere agents of Chavez. The third crook in the CNE, Battaglini, never pretended to be anything else but a agent of Chavez in the CNE. At least he is honest in his own way.
Besides the obvious this is even worse than just a new forced verification.
1- How will the verifications be handled? Will citizens be allowed safety when going to have their signatures verified? This is no idle commentary as Lina Ron hordes and all sorts of unsavory chavista groups will surely try to camp in front of whatever CNE verification center. They have been doing so in front of the main center, even to the point of almost trashing the car of the OAS representative. Does anyone believe that they will be behaved now when more than ever they need to scare people away?
2- What is the prospect of a clean election in the future with a now bitterly divided CNE that obviously will not stop at anything to give a maximum advantage to the Chavez camp? Florida will look like a children’s game!!!!!
3- Not to mention the possibilities of fraud that come with the new voting system approved by the CNE 10 days ago where there are at least 3 ways to commit fraud! (more on this in another post).
I think that democracy in Venezuela is in greater danger than ever. If not dead already and just waiting for the certificate to be written.