Caracas, July 26, 2022 (OrinocoTribune.com)—Rector of the National Electoral Council (CNE), Enrique Márquez, spoke about the electoral process for 2024 presidential elections in Venezuela.
Regarding opposition primary elections, Marquez—with clear connections with Venezuela’s far-right opposition—pointed out that the CNE is not directly involved in these elections, and he clarified that Venezuelan political parties are not obliged to use the electoral authority’s expertise for these internal elections.
During an interview with journalist Román Lozinski for Éxitos Circuit radio, Márquez said that the CNE, in a case where any political party or coalition asks for support, can provide technical assistance for internal processes.
He clarified that “political parties are not obliged to use the CNE to hold their primaries. They are autonomous organizations that can make their choices as they see fit. The CNE is available and willing to receive any request.”
Márquez explained the conditions for this kind of support as they are defined in the legal framework specified during the creation of the CNE:
• The request must be made at least four months before the process (primaries, in this case). As an example, Márquez referred to the primaries of candidates of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) for the regional and municipal elections in 2021.
“A logical date for the organization of a process of this type would be four months beforehand,” said Márquez. The PSUV organized internal elections for its candidacies for governors and mayors, which it held four months before the election, and was held based on technical criteria.”
• Technical and technological support. Márquez said that the CNE only provides technical and technological support to this type of process.
This concerns programming the machines with the options that the person who will elect the candidate will have, the counting of those votes, and the delivery of the votes to the primary commission of the party or coalition that organizes the process, in order to report the results.
• Márquez added that it is up to the primary commission to organize the process, decide how many tables and voting centers there will be, and select who those table members will be. One must also generate the electoral register and publish it, as this is not the responsibility of the CNE.
• Márquez questioned some political parties that participate in elections organized by the CNE, but oppose the CNE serving as support for events of this type, meaning primaries. This was a reference to several far-right political parties and individuals that have stressed that they will go to primaries, but without the use of the CNE, such as María Corina Machado, among others.
“In this case, the CNE does not get involved as it does in an election of an elected official,” said Márquez. “It is a support to guarantee transparency in the voting process. I would not see why a political party that has decided to participate in the elections organized for the public (presidential elections, for instance) is not going to also use it for the internal or primary election of its candidates.”
Given the recent requests by different opposition parties, which urge that Venezuelans abroad be able to vote in the 2024 presidential elections, the rector of the CNE stressed that all nationals can vote.
In this sense, he explained that citizens must formalize their status in the country where they reside, given the difficulties that some have in being able to exercise their right to vote.
Márquez indicated that all Venezuelans over 18 years of age have the right to vote, but they must complete their legal transfer to the voting center abroad, e.g., a consulate or an embassy, in order to be able to vote abroad.
He added that currently only 108,000 Venezuelans are registered to vote abroad.
“All Venezuelans, over 18 years of age, have the right to vote—that is unobjectionable,” said Márquez. “Now, they have to make their legal transfer to be able to vote abroad.”
Likewise, he clarified that only Venezuelans who reside in a country that has diplomatic relations with Venezuela can vote abroad.
In addition, he clarified that, according to the law, migrants must have legal status in the country where they reside in order to vote.
Electoral analysts consulted by Orinoco Tribune have explained that the statements of rector Márquez simply relay the legal functions of the CNE by law, and confirm that his approach towards voting abroad is also based on Venezuela’s legal framework.
Analysts were troubled by Márquez’s remarks concerning the transfer of the electoral voting location of a voter living abroad as dependent on the maintenance of diplomatic relations with certain countries.
Many voters and diplomatic and consular staff abroad have to face—for many years—recurrent problems accessing the CNE system that allows the change of voting centers, and when they reach a consulate or an embassy abroad, they are frequently told that they cannot help them due to problems accessing this system.
This might be the result of an inefficient or faulty system, improperly monitored by the CNE, or the result of negligence by Venezuelan foreign service officials. Meanwhile, the process of changing the voting center inside Venezuela is straightforward and does not present significant inconveniences.
Orinoco Tribune special by staff