Sunday, October 31, 2004

Time is running!

11 20 PM Venezuelan time and still the CNE has not come up with any communique. Most polling stations closed at 5 PM and the others must have closed by 8 PM. As usual, this type of delays decreases confidence in the results. I am willing to guess that the audit is done in a majority of the centers, after all, we did it here!

San Felipe is quiet. It is also late for us, as a provincial town that goes to bed early.

No other news to report from the preceding post. The TV is stuck on "replay" mode about all the incidents of the day. Amazing how a country can muzzle information!

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So I will tell you my experience with the audit process while we wait.

I must confess that I went inside the school in front of my place, and not at my very own voting center. I was told that there was enough people there and that I needed not to worry.

The sergeant in charge, taking grand airs announced that he would let only 6 people go in. IT is difficult to argue with a guy holding a riffle but we still managed to get at least 6. But we were six good ones because yours truly is a big mouthed one, and there was another one to back him up.

One table, controlled by a chavista crew, managed to transmit the results BEFORE they printed the results in front of the public, that is the 6 of us that got inside! If readers remember well, one of the assumed causes of electoral fraud on August 15 was that the machines transmitted data first, then were transmitted something back and that was when the print out came. It was of course quite possible to "insert" something in the machine memory that could alter the real result.

But that was OK and after complaining the guys that came in with me, and from table 1, asked me to talk to explain the proceeding to the president of table 2 who wanted to transmit first and print after. But I prevailed thanks to someone finding some piece of paper that contradicted the instructions she had and that were an earlier version. So we moved on and it was all fine. I have to say that I was the one that asked for the results to be read aloud and it worked! Of course by the time we reached table 3 all was fine and went as planned without an itch.

In the three tables the results for Lapi were in the same proportion. That is more than 2 to 1.

Then they all spend almost two hours filling up a boatload of forms!!! And signing them all of them!!! Finally we could do the final audit and all was fine and done.

I want to make a small and perhaps silly comment, but yet worth it I think. When I asked for the results to be read aloud as soon as they came out from the machine, the president did so. The audience of perhaps 30 people was very calm and even solemn. As Lapi crushed Gimenez there was not a single cheer but not a single lament either! Even though there was a majority of chavistas in the room! This was democracy at work! All knew that the results read were the real ones, no tampering whatsoever for that table and all respected that regardless of their chosen candidate! It was very moving. Of course what happens to these results once they are transmitted to Caracas is another story, but we, as citizens, had done our best to preserve the votes of our neighbors.

Definitely the need for an impartial arbiter in an election is the key for a good election!

PS: I was allowed to take a couple of pictures but for respect to the people that worked so hard and that tolerated my nosiness I decided not to post them.

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