Archive for August 14th, 2004

Plan for tomorrow

August 14, 2004

I will go bright and early to vote Si. I hope I can get out sufficiently early to go back home, get my camera and take pictures around the city and post them here.


At 2:30 PM I have to show up for volunteer work at a data center that will monitor how the vote is going in terms of the number of people that have voted. I will have to be there until all polls close and all centers have reported which may be quite late. The Electoral Board (CNE) has said it will make an announcement three hours after all polls have closed, I do not expect any announcement until 11 PM at the earliest.


 


I will report via e-mail to this page after that time, I have tested the system the last few days and it works well. If I have some color or anything else to report I will do it.


 


I wish everyone a beautiful, quiet and peaceful day and, obviously, I hope the Si wins, because I deeply believe that it is the best and only option for Venezuela.

Military attempts to intimidate voters and probably suceeded

August 14, 2004

The Venezuelan military is very confused about their role in the election. What else is new? What can you expect from mediocrity? What can you expect from bully Generals used to acting outside the law and with no checks and balances.


Let’s see, General Becerra announces “new functions” for the Venezuelan military, creating a scandal as he says that the military will ask people for the national ID card. The, he denies he said it. But then, his boss says, Becerra was following his orders and “the military will ask national ID cards from all citizens, to make sure that they can check that the picture coincides with the person…”


 


Then opposition spokesman Timoteo Zambrano says that the role of the military is outside of the polling centers, but this is being violated by some military leaders.


 


Then the Head of CUFAN comes back and reiterates that they will go beyond guarding the polling centers.


 


Then the Head of the Plan Republica which supports the logistics of the voting says “It is not abnormal for the military to request to see the national ID cards.” And that they will help with the lines, will check voters in the lists and will watch over the fingerprint machines, but will remain a “prudent” distance away from the voting machines.


 


Finally, the Minister of Defense as he left a meeting with international observers said: The people at the polling tables are responsible for the identification of the people”…and would only help if the members request help….they will not ask people for their National ID cards.


 


Now it is clear, but their goal has been achieved: the intimidation of voters.

Military attempts to intimidate voters and probably suceeded

August 14, 2004

The Venezuelan military is very confused about their role in the election. What else is new? What can you expect from mediocrity? What can you expect from bully Generals used to acting outside the law and with no checks and balances.


Let’s see, General Becerra announces “new functions” for the Venezuelan military, creating a scandal as he says that the military will ask people for the national ID card. The, he denies he said it. But then, his boss says, Becerra was following his orders and “the military will ask national ID cards from all citizens, to make sure that they can check that the picture coincides with the person…”


 


Then opposition spokesman Timoteo Zambrano says that the role of the military is outside of the polling centers, but this is being violated by some military leaders.


 


Then the Head of CUFAN comes back and reiterates that they will go beyond guarding the polling centers.


 


Then the Head of the Plan Republica which supports the logistics of the voting says “It is not abnormal for the military to request to see the national ID cards.” And that they will help with the lines, will check voters in the lists and will watch over the fingerprint machines, but will remain a “prudent” distance away from the voting machines.


 


Finally, the Minister of Defense as he left a meeting with international observers said: The people at the polling tables are responsible for the identification of the people”…and would only help if the members request help….they will not ask people for their National ID cards.


 


Now it is clear, but their goal has been achieved: the intimidation of voters.

Abstention decides, Si wins

August 14, 2004

It used to be that abstention in Venezuela did not impact results of elections. Basically, pollsters would be told that almost everyone would vote, abstention would be higher and the result would be the same as predicted. Abstention would simply have the same distribution across all social strata.


This is the only thing that is different this time around. With the registration of 2 million new voters between June and July, only 200,000 of which are new eligible voters, the effects of abstention will be different. High abstention helps the Si vote, low abstention helps the No vote. Why? Simple, the 1.8 million new voters come from the class D and E strata of the population who lean towards Chavez. These are voters who were eligible to vote in previous elections but did not even bother to register.


 


Most Venezuelans dislike polls, they claim they are never accurate, they never get it right, they don’t poll in the barrios. This is incorrect. As an example, in the 1998 and 2000 elections most polls predicted a Chavez win, even if only a few got the numbers within the statistical error of their study. What happens every election is that new polling firms appear with no track record and people don’t know how distinguish one pollster from the other.


 


For the last two weeks, reputable polling forms have been giving results that range from a 9% win for the NO to a 6% win for the SI. However, those that have a track record give an edge to the NO vote with a range of 4-6% in favor of the NO. As in previous elections, voters are saying that they are going to go out and vote, with abstention ranging from 15-20%. If abstention is higher, the result changes rapidly, above 30% the SI begins to win.


 


The question is whether abstention will be higher than these levels or not. Some argue that it will be low because the country is so polarized. I disagree. I see no reason for abstention to drop sharply below 30%. In the previous four elections abstention was 18% in 1988, 40% in 1993, 36.6% in 1998 and 43.7% in 2000. It is hard for me to believe that if abstention was so high in the heyday of Chavez’ popularity, it will become low as the aura around him has dimmed. People that don’t vote, don’t do it because they simply do not believe it makes a difference, that no matter who they vote for, things will not change. They are disenfranchised.


 


The Government and Chavez’ Comando Maisanta could change this by mobilizing voters to the polls on Sunday. But we are not talking of mobilizing 100 or 200 thousand people to a march, we are talking about the mobilization of a million plus reluctant voters to make the race close. After seeing Sunday’s campaign closing in Caracas and the two failed attempts to bring Chavez to close the campaign in Zulia state, I just don’t believe it is possible. Thus, it would be reasonable to expect levels like in 1998 when the withdrawal from the race by two candidates a couple of weeks before the election introduced enough confusion in the race, that people were motivated to go and vote, abstention was then 36.6%. I expect it to be around that same level, maybe dropping a couple of points because of the militancy of the opposition and not the Chavistas.


 


What this means in numbers is that if the number of people that go out and vote tops 9.5 million a victory by the NO is insured, below that, Si edges the NO out.


 


Given the abstention I am expecting, then the SI vote edges out the NO vote on Sunday  by two or thee hundred thousand votes and Chavez is recalled. 

Abstention decides, Si wins

August 14, 2004

It used to be that abstention in Venezuela did not impact results of elections. Basically, pollsters would be told that almost everyone would vote, abstention would be higher and the result would be the same as predicted. Abstention would simply have the same distribution across all social strata.


This is the only thing that is different this time around. With the registration of 2 million new voters between June and July, only 200,000 of which are new eligible voters, the effects of abstention will be different. High abstention helps the Si vote, low abstention helps the No vote. Why? Simple, the 1.8 million new voters come from the class D and E strata of the population who lean towards Chavez. These are voters who were eligible to vote in previous elections but did not even bother to register.


 


Most Venezuelans dislike polls, they claim they are never accurate, they never get it right, they don’t poll in the barrios. This is incorrect. As an example, in the 1998 and 2000 elections most polls predicted a Chavez win, even if only a few got the numbers within the statistical error of their study. What happens every election is that new polling firms appear with no track record and people don’t know how distinguish one pollster from the other.


 


For the last two weeks, reputable polling forms have been giving results that range from a 9% win for the NO to a 6% win for the SI. However, those that have a track record give an edge to the NO vote with a range of 4-6% in favor of the NO. As in previous elections, voters are saying that they are going to go out and vote, with abstention ranging from 15-20%. If abstention is higher, the result changes rapidly, above 30% the SI begins to win.


 


The question is whether abstention will be higher than these levels or not. Some argue that it will be low because the country is so polarized. I disagree. I see no reason for abstention to drop sharply below 30%. In the previous four elections abstention was 18% in 1988, 40% in 1993, 36.6% in 1998 and 43.7% in 2000. It is hard for me to believe that if abstention was so high in the heyday of Chavez’ popularity, it will become low as the aura around him has dimmed. People that don’t vote, don’t do it because they simply do not believe it makes a difference, that no matter who they vote for, things will not change. They are disenfranchised.


 


The Government and Chavez’ Comando Maisanta could change this by mobilizing voters to the polls on Sunday. But we are not talking of mobilizing 100 or 200 thousand people to a march, we are talking about the mobilization of a million plus reluctant voters to make the race close. After seeing Sunday’s campaign closing in Caracas and the two failed attempts to bring Chavez to close the campaign in Zulia state, I just don’t believe it is possible. Thus, it would be reasonable to expect levels like in 1998 when the withdrawal from the race by two candidates a couple of weeks before the election introduced enough confusion in the race, that people were motivated to go and vote, abstention was then 36.6%. I expect it to be around that same level, maybe dropping a couple of points because of the militancy of the opposition and not the Chavistas.


 


What this means in numbers is that if the number of people that go out and vote tops 9.5 million a victory by the NO is insured, below that, Si edges the NO out.


 


Given the abstention I am expecting, then the SI vote edges out the NO vote on Sunday  by two or thee hundred thousand votes and Chavez is recalled. 

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