Robin Alexander, second from right
In Venezuela for the Election, I Learned a Lesson in Democracy
By Robin Alexander
Beaver County Blue via UE News
I had the opportunity to accompany* the presidential election in Venezuela as part of a delegation of 245 members of government, election commissions, journalists, professors, judges and representatives of women’s, human rights, and other NGOs from across the world.** As our election approaches and I have watched with outrage the efforts by the Republican Party to limit access and the right to vote here in Pennsylvania and a variety of other states, I find myself wishing that our system here in the US was as fair and democratic as that in Venezuela.
Elections are held on Sundays to make it easier for working people to vote. A major outreach effort has resulted in the registration of 96.5% of eligible voters. Although voting is not compulsory, 81% of the population voted in the last election. Sophisticated technology is used to eliminate all possibilities of fraud or manipulation of data. In addition, the voting machines issue a receipt that can be viewed by the voter to confirm that his or her vote has been properly registered. These papers are then placed by the voters in more traditional ballot boxes and, after the polls close, an astounding 54% of those boxes are counted manually to ensure that the final tape from the voting machine is correct.
The election was hard fought, but Hugo Chávez was re-elected with an 11% margin and the process was so unquestionably democratic that the opposition candidate, Henrique Capriles, conceded defeat gracefully, stating “The will of the people is sacred.”