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    October 7, Presidential Elections in Venezuela

    By Merli Vanegas

    Fire This Time asked the Venezuelan Consul General in Vancouver, Merli Vanegas, to discuss the electoral process in Venezuela. The following is her explanation.

    Under the approval of the 1999 Constitution the Venezuela Electoral Power was born, which is to say it is an autonomous organ of the National Government. Previously there was only the Legislative Power, the Executive Power and the Judiciary Power. It is precisely this constitutional status which allowed the transformation of the electoral system in Venezuela.

    The new constitution included radical changes. It has participatory democracy as the form of government, the public opinion referendum, approving referendum and recall referendum, so that now in Venezuela electoral participation has taken a real leadership role, with the electoral body in charge of ensuring the constitutional mandate.

    To meet the demands of this new participatory democratic model of continuous consultations to the citizens, it was necessary to transform the electoral system, moving from a manual system, discriminatory and often fraudulent, to a new secure system which guarantees the transparency of the electoral processes through the automation of the vote. Incorporating cutting-edge technology we have made the Venezuelan electoral system one of the most secure, reliable, transparent and inclusive in the entire world.

    In 1998 we only had 4,899 voting stations across the country and the location of these areas was far from population centers. Caracas, the capital of the Republic is in a valley and is surrounded by mountains and hills where most of the population lives. The distribution of all polling was in the flat areas along the avenues, so the large population living in the hills and in the periphery of the city was excluded from exercising their right to vote.

    For 2012 we have 14,493 voting centers and since 1998 there have been around nine million new Venezuelan voter registrations. With these results, we can say with pride that in Venezuela the electoral inclusion and the right to vote is guaranteed.

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