August 30, 2004

Reflections of a suspicious comeflor

by Gustavo Soto-Rosa

I want to warn you, first off, that I'm a die hard comeflor, but at the same time I am very distrustful.

What if the Coordinadora, seeing itself on the losing end, invented the story of the fraud to hang on to the 41%, plus those "they stole from us"?

If the exit polls were showing the Si winning four hours before the end of voting and they knew the government was preparing to say No had won, why didn't they publish a statement calling on people to be alert and not to let the ballot boxes out of sight even for a minute in the centers chosen for an on-the-spot audit? Why didn't they give the news media a list of these polling centers? There were opposition representatives in just 27 of the 192 centers selected for the audit. Why didn't they demand the presence of international observers right then, not in Caracas but on the spot at each audit center? Was there a directive issued to stand back from the audit process, from the counting and the tallying and from the after-the-fact audit in order to create doubt? Remember that the first to cry fraud was (Accion Democratica Secretary General) Ramos Allup, and I hope he'll forgive me, but he's one of the CD leaders that inspires least confidence. In fact, I believe he didn't use the word fraud.

Which, of course, take us to the exit polls. They're the very definition of inauditable and can easily be manipulated in tallying. This would show up Plaza and Machado as liars, which is hard to believe, unless they temselves were fooled. [Quico's note - they could also be hopelessly incompetent.] It would also make fools of Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, the company that designed the exit poll. They have publicly backed the results of their poll. They're a recognized firm with lots to lose if its methodology is questioned, or worse yet, its ethics.

I of course don't doubt for a minute that the government would be willing and able to carry out a fraud. In fact, the fraud is out in the open in the form of the scandalous use of public resources for the No campaign; an unscrupulous use of the goods and power of the state to plow over dissenters and hoard yet more power.

I also think it's very possible that there could have been a switch at the moment when each voting machine connected at to the central database so it would register not the real vote, but pre-programmed, tampered with votes. Call it "matrix" voting, because at the same time it would have to print up the ballots for the fraud to be switched with the pre-existing boxes at the right moment.

Of course, here the plot thickens because we've already seen how long it took Sumate to organize 3.5 million signatures. In this case you'd have to dilute two million voting papers among many others (9.5 million) to make the switch go by unseen. That means they'd have to have had a battery of printers working day and night with people to organize all the boxes, close them with fake signatures to then transport them and switch them with the original.

This is where the fraud theory falls under its own weight.. To be able to pull off a stunt of this caliber, the government would've needed a small army of people to set it all up. A few hackers could have manipulated the system and you could keep that secret, but you can't do that with a mass of people working to switch millions of ballots. How many people did Sumate need to organize the signatures? Multiply it by three. How much time did Sumate, an efficient organization, take? These people were supposedly ready for an audit in two days and according to Smartmatic, they're ready for a total audit. Something is not right with this theory. The government has given many signs of extreme clumsiness when efficiency counts most. Remember how hard a time they had getting signatures against the diputados.

Obviously, somebody is lying here. The truly tragic thing wouldn't be if our adversary lied to us, from Chavez we expect that and much more, but if the betrayal came from our own leaders.

And may God forgive me for going around mistrusting people, like my old lady says.

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