Archive for June 18th, 2006

Limit on comments in post below

June 18, 2006

We reached the software limit on the comments on the posts “The real war…..” below. This has happened before, but people keep posting. It has to do with a limit either in the size of the comments or the numbers of posts, I have never been able to figure out which. I have removed comments that were way off topic in order to accomodate as many as possible, but if you post a comment it will simply not appear.

Open debate on electoral registry audit enrages Minister

June 18, 2006


Interesting
debate in today’s newspapers and the news about the so called audit of the
Electoral Registry being performed by the CNE. First, in El Nacional there is a
face of between the President (Rector in Venezuela) of Universidad Simon
Bolivar and the Rector of Universidad Romulo Gallegos. This open debate, which shoudl be part of any democracy, simply enraged the Minister of Communications, who called it  them a campaign to disqualify the audit. He is wrong, the CNE did that when it structured  the auidt it the way it did.

The Head
of Simon Bolivar University Benjamin Sharifker, probably the best internationally
known academic to reach that post,  in
his statements is sharply critical of the CNE techniques calling them XIX th.
Century, but does try to leave a door open to have the universities that are
participating in the process join the audit. Sharifker actually gets combative,
saying that the group of which his university is part has not made any statements
or proposals of auditing border municipalities, which leads him to suggest that
this is something that is feared within CNE. Basically Sharifker says that the
audit needs to have demographics in it and that rather than making it just a
random sample, you hovel to use modern techniques that optimize the possibility
of finding problems with it.  

In
contrast, Luis Gallardo, the Rector of Romulo Gallegos University, who was
named to the position, gives vary vague assurances about the audit in what is essentially
a political statement. He does say something which is incorrect that there will
be a demographic study, yes there will be a demographic study, but it will not
look outside of the electoral registry into the database of the National
Identification System like proposed by the universities which are not participating.
 

Finally, there is
an interview in El Universal
with Central University
math and statistics Professor Ricardo Rios, which the reporter chose to
highlight with a headline that says “Even the country’s Liberators will be able
to vote in the election”. Rios is none other than the man that designed the so
called “Kino” in the elections for representatives to the Constituent Assembly
in 1999, which allowed Chavez to have 96 of the 100 members of that Assembly,
which was a violating of the Venezuelan Constitution which guaranteed
proportional participation. In the interview Rios actually acknowledges that he
came up with the idea which led everyone to think that he was pro-Chavez. But
he defines himself as not pro-Chavez, left wing and suggests this is a
totalitarian Government, not left wing but simply a military Government.

Rios
begins by saying that even the audit being carried out without their participation
has not really started because there are problems 9n the databases that make
comparisons between the current and prior registries problematic. He claims
that 80to 90% of the registry is fine, but the question is then whether the
part that is not right can be used to change the outcome of an election. He
notes the inordinate amount of old people in the registry, including what he
calls the “immortals”, the close to 40,000 Venezuelans of age over 100 that
vote and will be able to vote in the December election. He suggests that they have
found other anomalies, such as very anomalous distributions of the last digit
in electoral centers, as an example of strange things in the registry. Thus, he
concludes only by being able to do a comparative sample with the data of the electoral
registry and the national ID registry would one know whether the registry is
valid or not. By the way, he blames the bad state of the registry on the “Mision
Identidad” which bypassed procedures and validatiosn in order to carry out its
goal.

The
touchiness of the Government with the subject became once again obvious when
Minister of Communication William Lara, found the time in between  soccer matches (Chavez cancelled his Alo
Presidente because it coincided with the time of the Brazil-Australia match) to come
out and blast
Sharifker and Rios. Lara, who has yet to realize that there
is an ethical problem and a conflict of interest in being the spokesman for the
Ministry and for Chavez’ MVR party at the same time, said he was representing the
party. He called these interviews “the instrumentation of a campaign to
disqualify in advance the audit being preformed on the registry”. He called Sharifker
and Rios part of the “recalcitrant opposition” (He did not call Gallardo a Government
puppet though) saying that Sharifker was using his position as President of
Simon Bolivar University to “disqualify automatic voting in Venezuela”.
Amazing how Lara can come up with these things given his unethical status
whenever he says anything as both Minister and spokesman for Chavez’ political
party. 

He also
took advantage of the opportunity to blast the media for participating in this campaign
and obviously even suggested there was a transnational strategy against the country
in all this.  

Clearly
the manipulation of the way in which the audit is being performed did not go as
well as they expected and they are quite sensitive about it. To top it all,
Sharifker announced they will hold a seminar at Simon
Bolivar University
on the subject and will invite the best researchers in the area outside Venezuela to participate.
This is what Lara is actually afraid of, that the charade of an audit the
Government put together with the institutions it controls will be openly
revealed and even ratified by these international academics who are the true
experts in audits which involve voting rolls and demographics.

Brazil, Roraima and Oscar D’Leon make for a light Sunday for now

June 18, 2006

It is Sunday, Brazil is playing, time for something light, below left a spectacular picture of the Roraima mountain in Guayana published in today’s El Nacional (page E-1). Below on the right, a better picture from last week’s Oscar D’Leon concert than the crummy one I posted taken with my cellphone. I took it from sin flash, where you can see many more.

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