Protecting The Votes in Venezuela Part III: The Opposition Has To Defend The Votes Everywhere

August 22, 2012

The picture above shows why the opposition needs to have witnesses in more electoral centers that it has done in the past. In the plot, voters are divided in seven groups of equal size, roughly 2.5 million voters per group, going from polling places where the opposition wins 80% to 20% on the left, to where Chavismo wins 76%-24% on the right. The vertical bars show the vote difference between the two sides in each of these seven blocks.

Note that as we go from left to right, abstention increases, going from 27% where the opposition is strong and increasing steadily to 39% in block six, but then surprisingly going down in block seven. Curiously (not shown), the number of null votes, also increases from left to right, but magically also decreases in the last block, which comprises some of the poorer areas of Venezuela. We also note that the poll stations on the right block on the extreme right, tend to be small, one or two mesas at most and in isolated locations. The opposition had almost no witnesses in these polling stations in the Parliamentary elections.

The conclusion that the Comando Venezuela has reached, is that the trend of higher abstention and lower null votes in block seven on the right, simply reflects the fact that we had no presence. If you extrapolate the trend of higher abstention the more pro-Chavista the area is, you would have expected abstention to come in at 42%, a full 6% points above what was obtained. We are talking about 150,000 votes that should not have been there.

The hypothesis is that these votes were not cast by voters, but by members of the polling stations, once no more voters were in line to vote and in the absence of opposition witnesses.

In fact, the same trends seen in the graph above have been used to identify ¨critical¨voting centers in blocks five and six on the right, where there exist anomalies in either abstention or a low number of null votes. These critical centers are the subject of special attention in the upcoming Presidential election and could make the difference in the outcome.

Now, I definitely don’t want to go into the details of what is being planned, but essentially, the objective is to have witnesses everywhere uniformly. In the past, political parties were assigned this task and typically they would fill the “easy” centers first. This time, all centers are considered alike, regardless of location and size and witnesses have to be found uniformly for them. However, “critical” centers have been identified as a way of checking that the plan is working. That is, a number of checks are defined for these witnesses. Things as simple as, do they answer the phone? Have they been trained? and the like. Then, every week, random auditing is made of the witnesses and these parameters are quantified and compared between centers using not only the “critical” versus non-critical parameter, but also geography, socio-economic background and the like.

What I was shown, is that these audit numbers, seven weeks before the elections, differ little for each of the blocks shown in the chart above or even if you look at it differently, using geography or other parameters. This implies, that the witness coverage will be the same or equivalent whether a center has on mesa, is located in a city or in an isolated region. This should be key in the upcoming election, as it would wipe out or significantly reduce the possibility of fake votes, as it is suspected there were in the past.

In the opinion of the people in Comando Venezuela, this issue is more important than any of the others. If the opposition can have witnesses present in all these polling stations, we can prevent thousands of non-existing votes from being cast, far more than errors or fake ID’s in the Electoral Registry could ever generate.

Could there be problems? Of course, no plan is infallible. The military via the Plan Republica could interfere. Some witnesses may be threatened or scared away. But vote protection should be orders of magnitude better than it was in 2010. And as I always tell people who are worried: We did win that election in terms of the number of votes, even if gerrymandering gave the victory to Chavez.

44 Responses to “Protecting The Votes in Venezuela Part III: The Opposition Has To Defend The Votes Everywhere”

  1. Dr. Faustus Says:

    “The hypothesis is that these votes were not cast by voters, but by members of the polling stations, once no more voters were in line to vote and in the absence of opposition witnesses.”

    It is exciting to note that someone has actually come-up with a plan to eliminate any potential voter fraud. The ‘Comando Venezuela’ people should be congratulated for their efforts. They seem to have done an excellent analysis of the problem and have devised a detailed solution. Well done.

  2. Alek Boyd Says:

    Thanks for this Miguel. What they say is basically what I have been telling all along: in the absence of meaningful scrutiny to the voting system, make sure that we have witnesses everywhere.

    I sincerely hope that the MUD/Comando Venezuela will be able to cover all critical areas.

  3. Gold Says:

    The magnitude of the Perfect Shitstorm that is brewing over castrochavismo right now makes me hope that they won’t even try. Y castro sin aparecer…

  4. LuisF Says:

    Excelent Analysis. THe diagnostic is clear, now two things: 1)execute a counter plan to this known flaw. 2)look else where for new ways for the goverment to pull a game changing number of votes in.

    Wait, they have done it already, Miami and all consulates abroad have systematicaly prevented new expats to register and registered voters to vote….

    Biased un controlled new cedulaciones and naturalizaciones…

    Prevented new younger voters to register in franchise, unless their “voting intentions” where deemed to be favourable….

    Long etc.

    However, I do not want to sount negative. Its great that we are learnig the lessons and prearing with more savvy for the next one. Gracias Diablillo.

  5. VJ Says:

    Hi Devil….
    I got several questions concerning the voting machines and other attached devices.
    You know that in any computer, no matter if it is a PC, a telephone, a mainframe, etc, you find two differents areas of computer technology: Hardware and Software.
    Everything I have read about the audits to the venezuelan electoral voting machines has to do with the software area: its programming, algorithms, file recording, etc. Here most of the experts conclude that machines do what they are suppose to do and so the system is OK.
    My questions are related to the hardware area.
    1- Do you know if Audits for the hardware component of the machines have been performed?
    2- Do we know the purpose of every and each one of the electronic components and devices installed inside the voting, tablet and fingeprint machines?
    3- Are we sure that there is not any kind of WI-FI or wireless technology inside the different machines that enable the PSUV to monitor the partial results from the tables before the elections are closed?
    Thanks !!!

  6. Narco Says:

    There have been audits of the hardware. I am not sure aboute the components. That they do not communicate has been checked extensively in tests in audits and during actual voting.

  7. Kepler Says:

    Narco,

    What you say is not what the people from Esdata have told me. At least that was not the case in 2010. There is a time, a brief time, when there is communication in both directions. You just need one bit to indicate to machine 4430001 with no oppo witnesses to optimize or not.

    VJ,
    If you cannot check out the source code of the program and verify it is the same as the binary used at every computer, there is no way you can be sure about its behaviour even if you test the program a million times (but for the simplest programs). A binary is a black box. One can easily set conditions to act differently at certain stages the user does not expect.

    • ErneX Says:

      An MD5 checksum can be done on the agreed/reviewed code compiled binary, question is whether this is being done or not.

      • Kepler Says:

        You need to do that in the machines that are used when they are used. If you do that after you have examined the code (which I think they haven’t) and they compile it and you do get the signature, you still need to do the same process in the machines when they are used in those places and you need to be sure you are checking those files that are really used. It is not so viable.

  8. Kepler Says:

    There is much more to this, but I will just copy paste this, stand of 2010. I will check out what changes have been done, have been busy.
    This comes from Esdata (2010)

    “la conexión es simplemente una conexión TCP/IP, la cual es bidireccional por naturaleza. Los log de las transmisiones se estudiaron con mucho detalle en la ocasión del referendo revocatorio llegando a la conclusión de que se transmitieron votos uno por uno (en lugar del total) y se recibieron nuevamente votos uno a uno pero en mayor cantidad. Esto sumado a las gravísimas irregularidades estadísticas de los resultados, nos permite estar seguros de que esas máquinas no son para nada confiables.

    El único antidoto al alcance de los ciudadanos es el exigir que se haga correctamente la auditoria de cierre en cada centro de votación, es decir que se cuenten las papeletas de la mesa que resulte seleccionada en un sorteo aleatorio hecho después de que todas las maquinas del centro de votación hayan imprimido su resultado.”

  9. Alek Boyd Says:

    I would like to comment on the graph.

    Note the amount of centers at the two ends: 1002 centers where the oppo wins (likely urban), versus 3811 centers where Chavez wins (likely rural).

    That is almost a 1 to 4 ratio. That is, for every center where the oppo has managed to root out any fraud possibility there are 4 centers in which fraud is almost guaranteed by the very absence of oppo witnesses. Put another way, in nearly 5000 centers, the oppo knows that results are a true reflection of the electors will only in a 1000 centers, or 20% of centers of this particular universe.

    Another thing that caught my attention is alleged abstention levels in the 3811 chavista centers (at 36%). If we look at the electoral map at the parish level (2010 data), we see many areas where Chavez gets more than 80% of the votes, in some even close to 100% of the votes:

    http://stanford.edu/~dkronick/vz-elections/en/#app=f3e8&ab2d-selectedIndex=9

    So with that tool the MUD can effectively identify, at the parish level, where the fraud was done in the past and counter it.

    Again, I sincerely hope they know what they’re doing, and more importantly, where they have to do it.

  10. Kepler Says:

    Ernex,

    Exactly. And we shall have witnesses on every centre when and only when the average Venezuelan – not politics junkies such as we – hear from our national leaders that it depends on them.

    Let me tell you this: as far as I know we had problems manning voting centres in many places in Southern Valencia and Tocuyito. In Southern Valencia (Miguel Peña), the poorest sector, we lost by only 3%. Had we had more people supporting witnesses there, we would have probably won even there.
    What happens? There are many people there who would need a lift to go back home after being a witness…or see security in numbers.

    I was supporting witnesses in the Firmazo in a place close-by, in Tocuyito (not formally part of Valencia, it’s to the South East). It was a scary event, with Chavistas on motors threatening us and a car race to get the signatures to a safe place. Fortunately, we organised it in such a way that several cars departed from the same place and Chavistas got confused. We need more of that in every region…the more, the merrier. But most Venezuelans – this is understandable, to some extent- are busy with their own stuff. We need to tell them in clear but not desperate terms that the cleanliness of the process depends on EVERYBODY, including them.

    Vota y alístate para ser testigo.

  11. VJ Says:

    Kepler, Narco, Ernex…
    Thank you for your comments and explanations but they all refer to the software area.
    I am talking about an electronic devices (hardware). For instance the chip that you have in your credit card. These devices are of type “ROM” (Read Only Memory) and its programming is made at the factory level, the programming commands are embedded in the constructions materials and once it is programmed there is no way to modify its purpose.
    So imagine a little chip incrusted inside of a voting machine that using WI FI technology is able to transmit data in real time about how the votes are being casted.

  12. moctavio Says:

    My understanding is that there is no communication during the voting and that this has been checked in the previous elections, during the vote, in audits and in random checks. It is fairly simple to detect wifi and other frequencies. But again, what wiuld they transmit? The results? Who votes how?. the latter seems difficult.

  13. A. Barreda Says:

    It’s a great analysis. I am glad you’re explaining to us all the steps the MUD is taking to protect our votes. However, I have to agree with Kepler concerns regarding possible threats and agressions against opposition witnesses.

    The military have already intervened in previous elections using the Plan Republica as alibi to obstruct opposition witnesses work. It is also a no-brainer that the shock troops will threaten or scare away witnesses away.

    The worst part is that neither law nor authority are relevant when it comes down to that. Neither the CNE nor the military will stand up for what’s right. Is the MUD prepared for that scenario?

    • Ronaldo Says:

      This scenario is where social media can make a difference. Live tweets or facebook comments can quickly draw attention to what is happening. Youtube videos can show the world that the election was fraudulent.

      • Kepler Says:

        Ronaldo,

        That’s only possible when you have several people at the same place with reliable Internet connection, even in Tocuyito or, say, one of the suburbs of Puerto Cabello or Maracay.

        When you have one person in a voting centre at 10pm in those areas and he is alone and the Chavistas say “dame ese celular o te reviento” you have a problem.

        That’s why we first need to be sure we send enough people to support each other in those areas. We need to spread our forces in a very intelligent way and we can only get the people to do that if we talk about that publicly now.

  14. LuisF Says:

    “DAme ese celular o te reviento” Kepler dixit

    Usted ha dado en el clavo amigo Kepler, ese es el crux del asunto, un numero importante de gente apoyando a cada grupo de testigos para neutralizar ese caribeo… !

  15. firepigette Says:

    I doubt very seriously that even with many people present that too many people will feel adequately safe in this situation.Chavez has a militia, and there are quite a few violent and or angry Chavistas out there, and most people are veritable cowards.

    I simply don’t trust it.

  16. moctavio Says:

    There will be more than one witness. There will be military. There will be organization. You have to fight the war to win. The people organizing this are not naive.

  17. firepigette Says:

    This is an understatement:

    “You have to fight the war to win”

    Let’s hope the spirit will be one of continuous struggle til victory.

  18. moctavio Says:

    We have candidates for Mayor everywhere, selected at primaries. Chavismo does not. The opposition has a unified network of all parties coordinated by the Comando Venezuela to train and provide witnesses. I dont want to go into the details of this network, but think who leads this part of the campaign (LL) and you know what it involves.

    • NET Says:

      LL is very good, hopefully a guarantee. I still remember him in a trailer 20 years ago or so parked in the streets of Chacao campaigning for the Alcaldia, when everyone, including me (and, I was a business partner of his Father), thought he was nuts. He’s a good planner, well-organized, hard-working, and determined. He will get the job done to the extent it is doable.

  19. CharlesC Says:

    O/T but thought you might like to read this: (I’m joking.)

    http://babalublog.com/2012/08/fidel-and-hugo-writing-a-book-together/

    “Fidel Castro works together with Hugo Chavez on a book that will appear soon,”

  20. Kepler Says:

    There is one big thing I did notice: how López is talking about how to defend the vote. He talks completely different from people such as deputy Caldera. He
    doesn’t see it as a fait accompli but as a task ahead. He shows real confidence and is far from bravado.
    Still, I have seen that when reading his interviews. I think he could be more vocal: we are going to win and YOU and YOU are going to help secure our votes.

    • syd Says:

      My take on LL: He’s maturing well. His decision to join the Capriles camp was a wise one, given his inability to articulate a cohesive vision for the country, during the pre-candidate period. Back then, he simply was not prepared, and he easily showed his inexperience for a larger political platform.

      I suspect that either LL has been reminded, or he has realized on his own accord, that the captain, the principal mouthpiece of the oppo is Capriles. For if there are too-strong or too many messages from others in the oppo, before 7O, it could dilute the principal message of the captain. And confusion is something that cannot be risked during thie pre-election period.

  21. CharlesC Says:

    I know I am O/T but this is too good to pass up. Hope you enjoy.

  22. CharlesC Says:

    http://babalublog.com/2012/08/talk-about-class-warfare/

    Chavez said-
    “If his opponent is elected, he warned, the Venezuelan people will rise up in arms “

    • CharlesC Says:

      Note this comment by J. Alvarez:
      “The problem is he means it, just like Gadafi and Assad meant it, and that is why he has supported them to the very end. He is trying to convince the world that he already won the election, when serious polls (not the ones he pays) indicate Capriles has all the momentum. This past week the radio and TV transmission of a meeting with socialist unions at the Caruachi hidroelectric power plant had to be interrupted when some “socialists” started screaming “collective contracts NOW”. Some of the protesters has to spend a couple of night in jail, Cuban style.”

  23. CharlesC Says:

    http://blog.erlingsson.com/?p=5006

    Title- Dissecting Propaganda – good graph and explanations..


  24. [...] leen The Devil’s Excrement series on the Comando Venezuela’s electoral auditing strategy regarding D-…,  podrán ver la manera en que estamos implementando la mayoría de [...]

  25. olibaron Says:

    t almost looks like a normal election ;). The oppo is putting a lot of effort into making the election as fair as possible and their campaign is starting to look quite okay.

    Still it is all about the election. Everyone is talking about how to make sure that every vote is legal and how and which voting offices should be checked. A good cause, but there is still a nightmare scenario out there..

    What if Capriles is well ahead when the votes are being counted? What will the chavernment do then? The stakes are high so anything could be possible. It will not be a smooth ride, that’s for sure.

    One thing that could happen is that Chavez will order his henchmen to start rioting across the country. He has done enough to get the country as polarized as possible so this will cause a mayhem. Then he will send in the troops and will declare a the country in a state of war.. Welcome to the full blown dictatorship called Venezuela…


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