Venezuela’s opposition rejected technical support from the government for its presidential primary, risking a chaotic vote and a possible court battle.
(Bloomberg) — Venezuela’s opposition rejected technical support from the government for its presidential primary, risking a chaotic vote and a possible court battle.
The opposition on Monday ratified that it would organize the Oct. 22 vote independently of the electoral authority, or CNE, using paper ballots rather than the state’s voting machines.
The committee in charge of the process also rejected the idea of pushing back the date of the vote.
Later, the CNE ratified its willingness to provide the opposition with automated technical support for its primaries. The electoral council “has the exclusive competence to organize national elections,” the body said in a statement issued Monday night and read on state television.
The CNE had offered to provide voting centers, electoral machines and other devices, while not interfering in other, nontechnical aspects, Elvis Amoroso, president of the CNE, said Friday. But many in the opposition had feared government interference and fraud, and argued for proceeding independently.
Front-runner María Corina Machado called for the use of paper ballots as the only way to guarantee the secrecy of the vote.
Some opposition members argued in favor of accepting the CNE’s help, saying it would significantly cut the cost of running the vote, and guarantee familiar venues for Venezuelans to cast their ballots.
President Nicolás Maduro is trying to convince outsiders that the 2024 presidential elections will be well run, after the US said it may ease crippling economic sanctions if the vote is fair.
The primary may now face legal challenges. The CNE board has previously warned that its duties include organize electoral processes “either after a party’s request or a court order.”
It had also secured over 3,000 voting centers in sheds, parking lots, houses of political activists, and some public spaces, some of which are vulnerable to violence or intimidation.
The opposition is still requesting that the CNE provide between 300 and 400 official voting centers, as well as security to ensure a peaceful voting day.
The opposition is trying to pay for the vote with a fund-raising campaign, although it hasn’t disclosed the cost.
(Adds CNE’s comments in fourth paragraph)
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