The real international observers on the recall referendum in Venezuela
Senator Bill Nelson
Congressman Robert Wexler
Care of Pete Contostavolos
Care of Eva Cargil
716 Hart Senate Office Building 213 Cannon
House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-0905 Washington, D.C.
Phone: : (202) 224-5274 Phone:
Fax: (202) 228-2183 Fax:
Venezuelan Presidential Recall Referendum, as seen by US International
Observers Curtis Reed and Steve Henley.
Dear Senator Nelson and Congressman Wexler:
As you know, Steve Henley (Democratic candidate for Supervisor of
Elections, Hillsborough) and I were in Venezuela as international
observers with the invitation of the Democratic Coordinator.
During the Presidential Recall Referendum (RRP), we traveled around to
between 18 and 25 voting centers, so many we lost count. We saw a
many irregularities in the processes, actions that here in the United
States would immediately be called a fraud.
As you read the list below, please ask yourselves the following
If, during the November 2004 election in the United States, we were
witness to similar behaviors perpetrated by the current administration
against the Democratic opposition, would we or would we not decry that
government had committed a massive fraud?
a.. In the days leading up to the election, President Chavez had
that with the Finger Print machines and the Smartmatic machines, he
know who voted against him. This was a threat, intended to intimidate
opposition. Remember that during the Referendum signature drive, voters
who were government employees and who signed against the government were
fired en masse.
b.. The CNEâ?Ts Junta Nacional Electoral President, Jorge Rodriguez,
made comments to the public about the norms and processes while flanked
military Generals, another tactic apparently designed to intimidate the
opposition by demonstrating that he had been given control of the
c.. The government ordered the police to remain in their barracks,
leaving the people unprotected. In the opposition areas, the Chavistas
operated with impunity, riding around threatening the people with arms,
and in some cases firing on them. Meanwhile, in the "popular" sectors
town, the police were out of their barracks, apparently to help the
government control the vote.
d.. We were threatened on several occasions, at least once with
concealed under the shirts of Chavistas who yelled threats and showed us
e.. When we went into the 23 de Enero barrio, Chavistas working in
voting area turned into rabble-rousers and tried to stir the crowd into
attacking us. The Plan RepÃªblica troops did nothing to stop them, and
when our safety was in question, they escorted us out. We could no
observe the many irregularities in the area.
f.. We videotaped the damages to the home of the Primero Justicia
coordinator, whose house was machine-gunned at around 3:00 AM of the
morning of the Referendum. We witnessed that the government summarily
fired thousands of poll workers previously accredited by the CNE, simply
because they had signed the referendum against the president. In their
place, the CNE actively hired pro-government workers that they called
directly (in violation of the CNE's own election norms that stated that
they had to be selected by "sorteo", or random drawing), and they
in workers from other districts to work in the mostly opposition areas,
and other clear violation of the norms.
g.. We saw that the Comando Maisanta had obtained illegal
â?oSecurityâ?? badges and had illegally set up cordons and were blocking
the entrance to the voting centers to members of the opposition (in the
mostly Chavista centers, such as Catia).
h.. We received first hand reports from witnesses who saw armed
Maisanta and Circulos Bolivarianos posted outside voting centers,
threatening the people who tried to vote SI.
i.. We witnessed military officers prohibiting the vote of people in
the opposition areas because they were "wearing shorts", a violation of
the constitution and their human rights.
j.. Thousands of voters who voted SI were physically assaulted at the
k.. We were informed by an elderly woman that when she asked for
assistance voting in a mostly Chavista area, a CNE voting officer asked
her: â?oYou need help voting?â?? then pushed the NO button for her and
l.. Armed pro-government â?oterroristsâ?? of the Bolivarian Circles
by Lina Ron invaded a voting center in Avenida Urdaneta, of the
Municipality in Caracas, and only allowed government supporters to vote.
These terrorists fired their guns at the opposition that tried to vote.
m.. We saw that the military controlled the flow of people into the
voting areas and slowed down the progress until we arrived. Witnesses
heard them radio to their comrades that "International Observers have
arrived. Speed up the flow." They then gave orders to change the flow
voters from 5 or so every 10 minutes, to groups of 30.
n.. Voting centers (in opposition areas) that normally had up to 9
tables were reduced to only 3 tables.
o.. The CNE dictated norms detailing the anticipated behavior of CNE
employees in general and in certain possible contingencies, such as
machine malfunction (by both the Smartmatic SAES machines and the Finger
a.. CNE workers refused to follow the CNE changes to the norms to
either stop using the Finger Print machines when they malfunctioned, or,
when it was determined that the machines were becoming a bottle-neck to
the process, the CNE ordered that they be used as a final process or
stopped, but the CNE employees adept to the government refused to obey
b.. Sixty CNE workers who were required to run the Finger Print
Hunting machines (Caza Huellas) failed to report to duty on time, in
violation of the CNE norms. This caused great delays in the voting
c.. Other CNE workers refused to open the voting centers on time,
causing delays of up to three or four hours.
d.. CNE workers friendly to the government closed the polls at the
wrong times, ignoring the Norms created by the CNE.
e.. Many voters who provided their fingerprints were told that they
had already voted and could not vote. Some of these voters were
A Chavista table witness told us that she had personally told an
woman (in her seventies) whose fingerprint was rejected that she could
vote because she had already voted and accused her of trying to commit
fraud. When we asked her if she knew that the machines had a margin of
error and that the poor woman might have been wrongly accused of fraud,
she told us she had not been told of that.
p.. We used stopwatches to time the flow of voters. In predominantly
Chavista areas, we saw that the flow was rapid (roughly 1.5 to 2 minutes
per voter). In areas that were predominantly opposition, the voting
was much slower (between 5 and 10 minutes per voter).
q.. International Observers were blocked from entering some voting
r.. In some voting centers, the review process was started without
presence of Opposition witnesses to guarantee transparency.
s.. Opposition witnesses and table members were physically removed
voting centers or blocked from entering and guaranteeing transparency.
t.. In the months leading up to the Referendum, hundreds of
if not millions, of foreigners were given citizenship and immediate
rights in massive ceremonies that literally filled stadiums, in
of the immigration laws. These expeditiously nationalized people were
allowed to vote in the referendum.
u.. In the days leading up to the vote, the CNE workers migrated
out of their home districts and into districts many miles from their
residences, sometimes into other countries. A pattern was discovered
indicating that many voters were migrated from mostly Opposition areas
into areas filled with government supporters. These areas are lawless
extremely dangerous, and many voters chose not to vote rather than risk
v.. When pro-government voters did not appear on the voting lists, in
many cases they were immediately provided with a solution at that center
and allowed to vote. Contrarily, opposition voters who were not on the
lists were told they simply could not vote.
w.. Pro-government representatives paid money to voters who indicated
that they had voted NO.
x.. We received denunciations that the military members who wanted to
vote had to do so with their superior officers watching their selection.
y.. After the tabulation of the votes, citizens from many centers are
reporting that the Voter Verifiable Paper Trail tickets printed by the
machines have been found dumped in the streets.
z.. The CNE workers in charge of safeguarding the materials failed to
complete their duties after the end of the referendum, since reports
flooded in that indicate that the Voter Verifiable Paper tickets were
found dumped in the streets of some barrios.
aa.. The CNE repeatedly issued statements that contradicted the
Venezuelan Bolivarian Constitution, limiting the rights of suffrage in
unconstitutional ways. Regarding the suffrage rights of citizens living
abroad, for example, the CNE said that only citizens living with
residence in those countries could vote, and that people with extended
tourist visas could not vote. Only in the last days before the
referendum, when it was too late for citizens living abroad to register
vote, did the CNE change its position and state that they determined
the Constitution allowed for citizens on Tourist Visas to vote.
they still denied the right of suffrage to Venezuelan citizens living
abroad whose residency status was out of date, which still remains hotly
contested as a constitutional violation.
Despite these attempts to limit the access to vote, the voters remained
line heroically. They organized support teams bringing food, water,
chairs, umbrellas/parasols, music, board games, radios, and everything
else you can imagine to keep peopleâ?Ts spirits up. Some waited in line
to vote for up to 14 hours, and absolutely refused to leave.
When I asked the people if they would get tired and leave, the answer
ALWAYS the same: "I will die in this line before I leave!" For those
were shot while waiting in line, this statement of determination became
prediction of their real fate. These people have become martyrs for
democracy, and we should not abandon them.
DEFINITIONS OF FRAUD:
As a general standard by which to examine the activities and determine
they can be considered Fraudulent, the Florida Department of State
Voter Fraud as â?oâ?[ogonek]intentional misrepresentation, trickery, deceit, or
deception, arising out of or in connection with voter registration or
votingâ??. (For more information, follow this link: Florida Definition
Voter Fraud). According to these standards (which by their nature of
being US laws are not applicable to Venezuela but at least give us a
standard by which to examine the activities), we can come to an initial
conclusion that the behaviors would, at least in the United States, be
considered fraudulent behavior.
Article 216, number 2 of the Venezuelan Organic law of Suffrage and
Political Participation states that the election shall be nullified;
â?oWhenever there has occurred fraud, coercion, bribery or violence in
formation of the Registro Electoral, in the elections or in the
examination of results and said vices affect the result of the election
This law consecrates the nullification of the election for vices
in various aspects of the electoral exercise such as the formation of
electoral registry, the voting procedures and scrutiny of results.
Venezuelan jurisprudence established precedence for the nullification of
election results in the Organic Law of Suffrage (1993) when it can be
demonstrated that the vices in the electoral exercise have a direct
on the end result of the election, that being the total result of the
election after examining the final vote count.
The Venezuelan Opposition legal teams will have to work to determine if
the fraud currently evidenced by the many irregularities meets these
standards, but a quick examination of the election results suggest that
there was indeed fraud as determined by Venezuelan organic law.
EXIT POLL RESULTS
Exit polls from across the country clearly gave the opposition the
At the time of completion of the voting, SUMATE and Penn, Schoen &
Associates, tabulated the results of their exit polls. The results were
Â¨ Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates
Exit poll: 59% in favor of SI; 41% in favor of NO
Exit poll: 59.4% in favor of SI; 40.6% in favor of NO
A breakdown by State indicates how widespread the victory appeared to
Note that, if these exit polls are correct, the Chavez government only
two of the twenty one states (Vargas and Falcon). Adjusting to
statistical error of 3%, the government might have won Barinas, Guarico,
Merida, and Lara.
It can be inferred from this that the poll results across the country
clearly indicated that the trend across Venezuela was for a landslide
victory for the Recall.
Poll results from voters outside Venezuela are also very telling:
# of tables
RIO DE JANEIRO
SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE
Venezuelans living outside Venezuela rejected the Chavez government
unanimously, with 92% of the vote. While this can be explained away as
due to the fact that most Venezuelans living outside Venezuela are
probably from the middle to upper classes, it still demonstrates that
there was a clear consensus among some sectors to remove Chavez from
power. If we combine the vote results from outside Venezuela with the
exit poll results from inside Venezuela, the pattern becomes even more
How can we explain the drastic difference then between these two key
indicators and the overall results in Venezuela? How did a lead of
twenty points for the Opposition suddenly turn into a ten-point loss?
Even if we believe there was a statistical error in the poll data
collection, the kind of error that would generate a thirty-point change
would have to be drastic. One would expect that the error would also
be global and shared across two separate polling entities, but would
rather show up in certain regions, or in one of the two polling methods
and not the other.
Something unusual must have happened that rendered those poll results
WAS THE SMARTMATIC MACHINE USED TO COMMIT FRAUD?
Analysis of the Acts is providing evidence that the Smartmatic voting
machines may have manipulated the results, and we are naturally very
concerned. This is exactly the worse case scenario about which we
you in June.
SUMATE has identified a number of areas where the voting results
that a â?ocapâ?? was placed on the total possible SI votes. In a number
of tables and voting centers, the voting results are absolutely
That is to say, the number of people voting for the SI option stopped
a specific number (say, 1,500 SI votes) in multiple voting centers, and
some cases, both the number of SI votes and the number of NO votes are
identical between multiple voting centers.
VOTING CENTER NAME
U. E. MARIA DE VERA
U. E. MARIA DE VERA
C.B.JOSE FCO. BERMUDEZ
C.B.JOSE FCO. BERMUDEZ
U.E. ROJAS PAUL
U.E. ROJAS PAUL
Reports are also being presented to the effect that in many centers the
â?ocapâ?? was on the percentage rather than on the number of votes. We
are waiting to receive more information on these allegations to
These are just a few of the highly suspicious results that are being
reported. We have chosen to await more details before drawing
about the Smartmatic systemâ?Ts performance.
It is absolutely crucial now that all of the paper ballots and the
machines be sequestered, although it may very well be too late, as the
government has probably prepared for this situation and has covered its
After personally witnessing the process, our organization has decided to
divide the analysis into two separate areas and provide separate
conclusions on each.
Electoral Processes and Procedures: We are able to confidently state,
without fear of unfair bias, following close study of the CNEâ?Ts voting
norms and the Venezuelan Bolivarian Constitution, that the Venezuelan
government, military services (Plan RepÃªblica) and its closely allied
civil organizations (Comando Maisanta and Circulos Bolivarianos), did
regularly and knowingly violate the Constitutional Protections,
Norms, and Human Rights of the Venezuelan opposition electorate in a
manner that is consistent with an attempt to change the election
It is difficult at this juncture to tell if these tactics had any effect
on the election, since the voters were so determined to withstand the
intimidation, long delays and other tactics employed to try to
We, the Directors of Free Venezuela, denounce the fraud (or attempted
fraud) committed by the Venezuelan government and its supporters in the
military and civilian organizations.
Electronic Vote Manipulation: There are a number of other irregularities
in the results that indicate that the machines were used to manipulate
election results, and that this manipulation of results would have been
sufficient to change the end results of the election.
If the Venezuelan opposition is able to demonstrate this, and if we find
that the machines were indeed used to commit a fraud, we shall
request an investigation in the United States Congress and Senate of the
Smartmatic Company and, as we have indicated previously, will propose
application of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to the companyâ?Ts
WHAT CAN YOU DO FOR VENEZUELA AND DEMOCRACY?
Senator Bill Nelson and Congressman Wexler, the Venezuelan democratic
crisis has finally reached the boiling point, and if our suspicions are
correct, we may now be witnessing the â?oworst case scenarioâ?? about
electronic voting fraud. This situation is worrisome not just for
Venezuela, but also for democracy everywhere.
We know for a fact that Smartmatic is trying to obtain certification in
the United States, and eventually hopes to sell their SAES machines
We respectfully request that you use your influence to initiate an
investigation, and to pressure Smartmatic to explain in detail all of
discrepancies. We would like to request that Doctor Rebecca Mercuri and
Doctor Avi Rubin become involved in the case, as we believe they are the
foremost experts in this subject and will be able to shed light on the
Additionally, I would like to speak directly with the Senator and
Congressman to explain what we saw. We would be willing to travel to
Washington D.C. or your local offices to do so. Top-level members of
Democratic Coordinator and SUMATE would be willing to join us.
This issue is of utmost importance. Please grant me this meeting
Curtis Reed, Presidente de Free Venezuela Inc.,
© Copyleft 2006 Alfredo Octavio.
Last update: 1/19/06; 3:41:00 PM.