Venezuela’s opposition presented evidence yesterday regarding possible ballot tampering in last week’s gubernatorial elections, seeking to bolster its claim that its shock loss at the polls was the result of fraud.
The Democratic Unity Roundtable’s (MUD) claim rests on results from a single race, in industrial Bolívar state, where pro-government candidate Justo Noguera was declared the winner by just 1,471 votes over opposition candidate Andrés Velásquez.
The opposition coalition said the results on the National Electoral Council’s website don’t match the tallies from 11 ballot boxes certified by poll workers representing multiple political parties. It said the inconsistencies resulted in 2,199 votes from those polling stations being awarded incorrectly to Noguera, enough to swing the vote in his favour. Electoral authorities had no immediate comment.
For the opposition, the disputed figures represent a glimmer of hope following days of internal feuding in which crestfallen leaders have alternately blamed their big loss in Sunday’s regional elections on voter apathy, strategic missteps and pre-election manoeuvres by the government to suppress turnout.
Pre-election polls predicted that popular outrage over triple- digit inflation, food shortages and the crackdown on dissent gave the opposition a virtual lock on the majority of Venezuela’s 23 governorships.
But in the end, President Nicolás Maduro’s opponents carried only five districts, suffering defeat even in strongholds such as Miranda state.
Bolívar state was not called on election night because results were too tight. On Thursday, Maduro warned that opposition gubernatorial winners who don’t swear loyalty to a pro-government constitutional assembly will not be allowed to take office and added that they could be removed and even jailed. All five opposition governors have so far refused to take the loyalty oath to the constitutional assembly.