Opposition claims irregularities in Venezuela vote

AP News
Posted: Apr 17, 2013 2:11 PM
Opposition claims irregularities in Venezuela vote

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Opposition candidate Henrique Capriles has presented a series of allegations of vote fraud and other irregularities to back up his demand for a vote-by-vote recount for the presidential election.

Ruling party candidate Nicolas Maduro, the hand-picked successor of the late Hugo Chavez, was declared the winner by 262,000 votes out of 14.9 million cast, and Capriles contends the purported abuses add up to more than Maduro's winning margin.

Among the allegations:

— Government supporters forced Capriles' observers out of 283 polling places, threatening them with guns in some instances. There were 722,983 votes cast in those polling places, and the lack of witnesses allowed the possibility of fraud, including double-voting.

— Government backers on motorcycles, traveling in menacing packs, turned pro-Capriles voters away from the polls.

— There were 3,535 damaged voting machines, representing 189,982 votes.

— Voting rolls included 600,000 dead people.

— An unspecified number of votes were recorded for people whose official birth dates would make them 100 to 120 years old.

— In 1,176 of the 39,319 voting machines, Maduro got more votes than Chavez had in the October presidential election even though Chavez was far more popular and won nationally by a far bigger margin.

— Maduro supporters held get-out-the vote campaigns at 421 polling stations in violation of election laws prohibiting partisan material at voting centers.

In addition, the Capriles camp notes the National Electoral Council says about 100,000 votes were cast abroad and they had not been counted as of Wednesday. His campaign estimates more than 90 percent of those votes were for the opposition leader.

The National Electoral Council and the courts are dominated by Chavista loyalists and are almost certain to reject Capriles' push for a recount.