Venezuela’s electoral culture


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In Venezuela, voting is 100% automated, and it includes voting machines and electronic ballots. Photo: Mercadeo y Negocios.

Just as each country has its own characteristics, reflected in its traditional music, food, dance, and other cultural expressions, it can be said that in the electoral realm, nations also have their own peculiar aspects that obey to its political, social, and economic terms.

In the case of Venezuela, when it comes to elections, attention is usually centered around solely political topics every time an election approaches. This is understandable, keeping in mind that this is a country that has been experiencing a high level of political polarization for more than a decade.

Unlike Argentina, for instance, where there is strong concern over the way votes will be tallied during the presidential runoff that will be held in a few weeks, in Venezuela debates are not associated to concerns related to electoral guarantees or the system’s security. Criticism from political actors is rather centered on the bias or lack thereof of the National Electoral Council (CNE) and the use of state resources in campaigns, among other issues.

When deputy and reelection candidate Miguel Pizarro spoke on behalf of the Coalition for Democratic Unity (Mesa de la Unidad Democrática), he criticized the fact that CNE does not allow international observation according to the parameters requested by the opposition group, highlighting that “the electoral system in Venezuela is not at issue.”

In spite of the fact that the electronic voting system is not at the center of the discussion, it should be noted that this country holds 17 different audits that guarantee the conditions demanded by an election. Members of all political parties participate in these audits.

In a strictly technical sense, Venezuela has a robust system that has become part of its electoral culture. Voters, political parties, and governmental bodies are fully knowledgeable of the system.

Despite the conflicts there are, there is no question about how votes are counted and processed. It seems that the task still pending is the improvement of the environment in which the act of voting takes place in order to elevate the credibility of elections. What mechanisms of international observation to use, how to regulate electoral campaigns, how to avoid the use of state resources—these seem to be the problematic questions in Venezuela. This is part of the electoral culture that still needs being worked upon.

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