Venezuela's opposition asks election audit to include fingerprint verification

For years, Venezuela's opposition criticized the fingerprint scanners as intimidation but now hope it will prove incidents of voter fraud.

Fernando Llano/AP
Venezuela's opposition leader Henrique Capriles arrives for a news conference at his office in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday. Capriles urged Venezuela's electoral commission to begin the audit of the April 14 disputed presidential vote, that handed Capriles's rival, Nicolas Maduro, a victory.

• A version of this post ran on the author's blog, The views expressed are the author's own.

Wednesday, [opposition leader] Henrique Capriles went on television to demand the [National Election Council] CNE offer his data as part of the [election] audit. The government of Nicolás Maduro quickly insisted that all television stations go to cadena, [where all channels must broadcast the same message from the government] in order to broadcast a prerecorded infomercial accusing Mr. Capriles of instigating violence. This had the added effect of blocking the Capriles press conference from the few stations that were broadcasting it.

Miguel has the specifics of Capriles campaign's audit request from Venezuela's CNE. Capriles wants the audit to look at who voted and how the fingerprint scanners that are supposed to prevent double voting functioned. For years, the opposition criticized the fingerprint scanners as an unnecessary intimidation while the government insisted the scanners are necessary to prevent voter fraud. So there is a bit of irony in that the Capriles campaign now wants the fingerprint data to be audited to look for voter fraud while the government is fighting against that effort as somehow unnecessary. Going through the voter records and fingerprint data is a completely legitimate request in the audit and within Capriles's rights as a candidate.

Meanwhile, media outlets and citizens have [reported] that the government has lied about the violence. Clinics allegedly destroyed by opposition mobs have been photographed as being just fine. Photos shown on state media of injured "chavistas" have [reportedly] turned out to actually be opposition supporters who were beaten by pro-government thugs.

Indeed, the government appears to be engaged in a relatively severe crackdown of its own, even as it accuses the opposition. The AP reports on several hundred Capriles supporters who were arrested, beaten, and otherwise abused. Several recordings have surfaced online showing the government is threatening to fire workers who voted for Capriles in the election.

At the very top, National Assembly head Diosdado Cabello plans to investigate Capriles for violence. The minister of prisons suggested/joked that a jail cell has already been prepared for the candidate and he should accept arrest and rehabilitation.

All of this should raise the question of what the Venezuelan government is trying to hide or cover up. If they were certain of a Maduro victory, then they'd gladly open up the books for a full audit. Polls show a large majority of Venezuelans believe an audit is a legitimate request and statements by UNASUR and the OAS supported the audit as well. Maduro's attempts to avoid close scrutiny of the election process and change the subject by attacking Capriles and his supporters are going to hurt his legitimacy.

– James Bosworth is a freelance writer and consultant based in ManaguaNicaragua, who runs Bloggings by Boz.

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