Sunday, November 23, 2008

The 2008 election day events post


And thus the CNE dragged this agony for yet another hour.


Until about an hour ago there were still a few people voting in some centers which had mechanical problems. But now 99.9% are done with, whatever is left is very unlikely to make any change in the final result.

So again we are facing the same problem as in 2007: the CNE waits for Chavez to be ready to announce the result. That is, they are waiting for their orders on how to give the first bulletin so Chavez can come right after in cadena and try to do the best of it. Truly, had Chavez won by now we would know it. Even though I know that Yaracuy is lost I still do not hear any celebration in the streets except for some distant music.

So? What is once again delaying the CNE? Chavez personal crisis? A break down of Sandra Oblitas (she is the hard core chavista of the lot and was seen crying the night the referendum lost).?

The sad part of thsi is that chavismo might have actually won but Chavez himself set the bar so high that anything less than a strong victory for chavismo will pass as a victory of sorts for the opposition. Comme on fait son lit on se couche.


Start getting ready. It seems that the CNE announcement is a matter of minutes. Then again we heard that one already, did we not?


Carlos Ocariz 350; Jesse Chacon 13.


My brother's table: Capriles Radonski 348; Diosdado Cabello 14.

A new meaning for "not even close".


It has started: the opposition has hinted that if the CNE delays results too much they will go ahead at some point and announce them anyway. 2007 all over again.


My brother final participation number: 371 voters, 28% abstention!!! And if you consider that the CNE lists are so up to date you can discount at least a 5% people dead, moved or something, the result is even better. For a local regional election you can hardly ask for such a high turnout!


At 14:35 I posted a link to exit polls. With a big caveat. Well, sure enough I have been informed that it was disinformation from Aporea. AS if that would have been enough to stop people from going to vote.... Geee......


OK, condition to open champagne: at least 6 of the just mentioned list.


A cold headed source who was pessimistic thinks we might have won in Nueva Esparta, Zulia, Tachira, Sucre, Merida, Guarico, Miranda, Barinas, Carabobo, and Caracas at large. I got from someone else the same info, also telling me we lost Yaracuy.

If this is true we are seeing 9 states plus Caracas. Not exactly my nightmare scenario for Chavez but certainly enough to require lexotamil.

AGAIN!!! Do not open your champagne yet!!!!! this is just rumors that are getting more trustworthy but still rumors.


My brother reports 337. That is 65% participation and still voting. That is the kind of turnout Ocariz needs.


"El carometro" of Ledezma makes me optimistic for Caracas. "Carometro" is a local political term where we measure the expression on the face of folks to decide whether they won. The "carometro" of Muller Roajs of the PSUV was nto very good. Then again in their frame of mind losing one election is one too many anyway. We, democrats, do not suffer of such angst. Well, we are pissed when we lose but we also understand when we do not win all we thought we would do. At least in democratic countries, not this one where the government has an incredibly unfair advantage and we must be happy with the scrapes that we are allowed to get.


I have been told that Yaracuy is lost. No surprise. I have restrained myself to write about Yaracuy because I cannot be objective. I am so angry at the ways Lapi and his supporters have behaved, thinking only in the return of Lapi even if that would screw us. As I was voting I realized that it was lost in Yaracuy: I had to help too many people to vote and I saw way, way too many people wondering about how to vote. This in a center that always vote 4 to 1 against Chavez. The only explanation is that the Lapi/Capdevielle people were too busy fighting each other to worry about voter registration and education. Well, at least it is the end of Convergencia and Lapi. Capdevielle never had much of a chance anyway.


My bro reports that they have reached the 280 number and counting, many people waiting outside. That gives 54% participation in Macaracuay, better than last local election.


Dog walked. Many centers in San Felipe still with long lines. Others have just closed, like the one in front of my home. All is quiet so far though some people are throwing fireworks. I could not tell what camp were they from but probably chavistas: they are the only ones with money for that. then again they have them and they rather blow them up than later if they lose.

Exit polls received are still not verifiable but it seems that in Carabobo things are closer than expected: the recent collapse of Acosta Carles with the Makled affair might have played something in it. But Caracas seems more open than expected. The cadena and the rain of Thursday? Another case of you lose soem you get some?


Off to walk the dog and enjoy a little bit the afternoon.


Abstention might be at a recent all time low in Caracas. My brother's table (he got drafted by the CNE) in Caracas has 512 registered voters and he just wrote me that they are at 225 votes cast, with plenty of people waiting outside. Still low you may think but it is lunch hour, a small wave is about to arrive and thus they hope to cross the 300 mark which for that center would be good.

A page with exit polls. WARNING (again): there is no way to verify how legit are those exit polls.


How Daniel voted.

First picture the complexity of choices. You need to select three votes from the left panel and one from the right panel. Imagine in Caracas where you have up to 10 votes in 4 panels!!!! People here were very confused because information did not reach them, because the opposition is divided and was more preoccupied in settling internal scores than educating voters. If we lose Yaracuy it will have been sheer incompetence and irresponsible from our local potentates.

Although I am rather informed it took me a couple of minutes to locate well all of my choices (2 for one party and 1 each for two other parties). And I had to help a few people who could not make sense of it at all and of course were unwilling to say for whom they were voting for. I think that I made sure that at least 6 opposition votes would be cast correctly.

From that I can see the advantage that Chavez has by accepting only PSUV: his voters do not have that morass of small parties to chose from, 90% of them getting less than 0.5% of the votes anyway. Autocracy has its rewards.

This second picture is the inner school yard. Tropical voting is definitely nicer than winter voting. The lines can be followed along the walls as a big S. Voting time of these lines you see between 1 and 2 hours depending at what table you vote. Mine was relatively fast but the next one was desperately slow! The nice thing is that since we are a small city and an old district, you cannot fail to meet someone you know to chat away the wait.


First exit polls reach my mail box. Warning: I cannot verify the source. Capriles and Ocariz would be beating respectively Diosdado and Chacon by almost 2 to 1. Ledezma and Salas Feo leading, Salas with a comfortable advance. Adan Chavez would be losing in Barinas.

I REPEAT: not verified so please, do not break champagne bottles yet. Remember August 15 2004?


Back from voting. Long lines, about 40% participation at 1 PM which means that my center is headed for a record turnout for a non presidential election. Lines were slow but moving. Curiously as far as can tell from people stuck on their cel phones, centers where chavismo wins have lines moving faster.


Off to vote!


Public service announcement. Students, NGO and other groups are making available this list of phone numbers for anyone to report problems at any voting station, or any irregularity that could be happening inside or around a voting center.

0212 583 7196
0416 402 5917
0416 402 5532
0416 402 4184
0416 401 6697
0412 637 1981
0412 637 1979
0412 637 2016
0412 201 9562
0412 201 9563
0412 201 9564


In a little while I am going to go and vote. But while I get ready I am leaving you with two links appropriate for the day.

Gustavo Coronel tells us of all the abuse and unfair pressure exerted by chavismo to intimidate voters into voting for their candidates.

If you want to know why Chavez is going to lose in Zulia you can read this article on how the Gaiteros musical groups have had to self censor themselves as the Gag Law forbids protest songs on radio. Yes, today in Venezuela Bob Dylan music could run into trouble in radio stations. If it makes it, it is because it is in English and censors are stupid or thing that protesting against the US society quirks is allowed. Since the "gaita" is the protest song form of Venezuela, you can imagine the effect of that in Zulia, the land of the gaita, used to vent its frustrations through end of the year gaitas. It is Spanish and by subscription to El Nacional so I have put it in my other blog for you to read.


By the way, if anyone has interesting information, please put it in the comments or send it to me if you think it is worth including within this post. Pictures are welcome. And if you stay for the vote count at your center, I will publish these results, CNE or not. But after at least 90% of centers are closed, I do not want to be too illegal. It will be kind of an open thread today.

And now for my coffee and some paper reading. See you in an hour or so.


Went to walk the dog and pick the papers. The PSUV has installed a huge tent two blocks from the voting center. Nobody there except two activists bored reading the papers. The papers are neither El Universal nor El Nacional.

On the way back I saw a car with a PSUV propaganda sticker and a 14 on a cardboard behind the windshield. IT was a car monitoring voting stations: they stopped briefly, looked from the window and put a phone call from a wireless. Although I am not absolutely sure but it looked like one of these "trunking" devices, not a sexy small Nokia, which do not rely on wireless phone networks. Military? Nothing from the opposition anywhere. At the very least we can say that there are 14 cars monitoring San Felipe area voting stations, figuring out where the lines are and preparing whatever contingency plan the PSUV has to speed up or delay voting. For example the voting center in front of my house has in general a 2 to 1 ratio agaisnt Chavez. Is it better for PSUV to discourage people from voting there because of the long lines (a quick phone call to a voting center PSUV member could delay the voting process easily) or is it better that there is no line so people think that opposition voters are not voting?

I do not care to speculate however I cannot fail to observe that PSUV is now very organized, with a powerful machinery while the fight between Lapi and the rest of the opposition has resulted in a weak machinery for our side. Once upon a time Convergencia had the best machine in the Yaracuy. Those days are over.


I have finally reached my brother who this time had to serve at a voting center in Macaracuay. The line is long but not too long. What is going on is that the voting process is complex and people are missing a vote regularly because they do not understand the "voto lista" from the "voto nomimal". The hoped for 3 minutes voting time is turning out not to be enough.

For legislative body we need to vote twice or even more. 40% of legislators are elected from a list where the names are divided proportionally. But 60% are elected on a name basis, kind of the way it is done in some Southern states of the US. The problem is that some circumscriptions have more than one representative and you must vote for each and everyone. This is not only confusing but very unfair since with 40% of the vote a party can carry ALL of these "nominales" representatives. The way legislators are elected in Venezuela, including the "morochas" thing, renders that vote very unfair, not representative, and let's not be afraid of words, undemocratic. I will write more about that later when I dig old posts I did on this respect.


Having my cereal I read in the New York Times that Carter has been refused entry into Zimbabwe. I love it.

I also read some text messages. Long lines in some Caracas centers. The voting is quite complex and as a result chavistas vote fast and opposition votes slow. The options for chavistas are less and they are arranged in the voting machine in an easier way that the opposition options. Discrete ways the CNE finds to tilt the advantage for Chavez.

Outside my window voting seems to be normal. The line is about a dozen folks.

8:15 AM

I was wondering whether I was going to go though writing a regularly updated post again. But I have done it for every election since 2004 and since it is my last election from where I can watch a voting center activity, I decided to do it for old times sake. In a week or two I will have moved and will not be subjected anymore to the early wake up calls of a voting center opening.

But this time once again, at 5 AM street noise woke me up. I can deal with that and fall asleep again. But this morning chavismo also had to show its nervousness: we got taped wake up call military style "la diana". A stupid truck kept driving around waking us all up. I do not know what time it was, it was all dark outside and it got me very angry while I tried to hide my head under pillows. The idea is for chavistas to wake up early and go to vote first so as to remain in the streets until votes are counted. I do not know who came up with such a stupid idea but Chavez announced it, and more than once.

The catch see, is that opposition voters are also awakened and they are pissed and more motivated than ever to go and vote against Chavez. While there is no guarantee that chavista voters will respond favorably to an early wake up call. Well, in my next home I will have no more voting center noises and I will be in a small street , hopefully protected from any "diana".

-The end-

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