Archive for Sunday, August 22, 2004

Audit confirms Venezuelan recall results

August 22, 2004


— A two-day audit aimed at investigating allegations of fraud in last Sunday's presidential recall referendum confirmed President Hugo Chavez's overwhelming victory, but did little to satisfy many opposition leaders who claim the audit was insufficient to detect perceived irregularities.

After comparing a random sample of paper ballots from 150 polling stations to the results produced by controversial touch-screen voting machines, the Carter Center and Organization of American States on Saturday reiterated their initial judgment that Chavez's 58 percent win was clean and legitimate.

"We respect the doubts the opposition may have," said Cesar Gaviria, OAS secretary general. "We, the Carter Center and the OAS, can say the results published by the National Electoral Council are compatible with all our controls."

Opposition leaders, who had requested the international observers, rejected the audit as incomplete. They called for a wider investigation into the software and servers used in the touch-screen voting machines.

The opposition insisted the referendum was an "electronic fraud, which has mocked the popular will," said Asdrubal Aguiar, of the opposition coalition Democratic Coordinator, minutes after the audit results were announced.

Chavez's supporters and opponents have squared off in violence for two years. The recall referendum, in which an unprecedented 73 percent of Venezuela's 14 million registered voters participated, was meant as a democratic solution to the political crisis.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.