Venezuela election crisis settles into slow boil

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 26, 2013 at 8:28 pm •  Published: April 26, 2013
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Vicente Diaz, the only member of the five-person National Electoral Council not seen as being firmly pro-government, told reporters that he had abstained from the council's vote because it did not include a review of registers containing voters' signatures and fingerprints.

President Nicolas Maduro, 50, was declared the winner of the election by a 267,000-vote margin out of 14.9 million ballots cast, or less than 2 percent of the total. Capriles says voting rolls included 600,000 dead people and a review of the registers would reveal votes cast in the names of the deceased.

Venezuela has a relatively advanced, multi-step voting system in in which citizens cast their vote on a computer, which generates a paper ticket that they place in a ballot box, before signing and placing their fingerprint in a register. At the end of election day, each computer generates a paper tally of votes.

A series of government officials have indicated in recent days that the vote audit would consist simply of matching the strips of paper tallying votes with the individual tickets in the ballot box. Capriles says the audit would show that those tallies match but won't uncover other types of fraud, like voting by people using the names of the dead.

"The members of the National Electoral don't want you to see what's in the voting register!" Capriles wrote on Twitter Friday. "How many dead people voted?"

While this week has seen a series of statements from high-ranking officials that they are ready to jail Capriles in connection with post-vote violence, Maduro appeared to be softening that tone on Friday as he toured the country reviewing infrastructure projects and promising more efficient responses to complaints of government mismanagement.

"We are all going to turn ourselves into popular communicators," he said. "Let's work together and build a stable revolutionary majority, which can even reach 70 percent ... let's knock on the door of the house of the people. Let's tell them our truth."

Late Friday, Maduro announced that he would travel to Cuba in the coming hours to ratify the strategic alliance that grew between the countries under Chavez.

"Tomorrow Saturday we are going to form a mixed commission with the government of Cuba to sign agreements for a new stage of cooperation in health, education and sports, to ratify our strategic alliance with the socialist government of Cuba," he said.

_____ Fabiola Sanchez on Twitter: http://twitter.com/fisanchezn

Michael Weissenstein on Twitter: http://twitter.com/mweissenstein

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