October 11, 2006

The Sacred Right to Vote

Katy says: The following post was written by a few loyal readers. It talks about how to vote, and what to do to defend our votes. In the spirit of real participatory democracy, I am reproducing it verbatim.

PS.- The picture - my idea, not theirs - is, of course, of Aung San Suu Kyi, one of the world's greatest living heroes. May her struggle inspire us.

"In order to make Rosales win the presidential election in December, we need to do two things:

  1. Vote.
  2. Defend our votes.

It sounds rather simple but past elections have taught us that it is not. Since we don’t plan to lay down and watch our country turned into another Cuba, we have put our heads together to think about the following question:

How can we defend our votes on December 3rd?

These are the answers we came up with:

Negotiating with the CNE is like going into a blind dark alley and there is nothing new in this regard. The only way to get the CNE to behave is to force it to do so, and to do that, we need the people to back that up. And for the people to back it up, we need informed and prepared people, ready to defend their vote not on December 4, but on December 3 and before.

Perception is the first part of the equation, so an avalanche of clearly identifiable voters, in each and every precinct, has to be part of the strategy. Clear preparation of each individual that will be part of this avalanche is the main clue of the strategy.

Opposition voters could wear white T-shirts with the message: “Maldito el soldado que usa sus armas contra su propio pueblo”. When a National Guard in a voting station sees for 200 times in a row the same message, he will think twice about his actions. The effect of T-shirts with a message could multiply on its own and reduce the fear in the voters.

Fear is another clue element which should be shifted from voters to armed groups. Voters carrying cameras and video recording devices around the voting centers would make the armed groups aware of the fact that their actions are being filmed and recorded. Armed groups need to be left with the uncertainty about how many of their planned abuses will show up clearly demonstrated at some point in the future.

Since in previous events -the regional elections in 2004 come to mind-, the minister of the interior and justice declared that it was forbidden for electors to gather around voting centers to wait for the vote count, it is foreseeable that this time around they’ll do the same. This possibility should be addressed by Rosales before the government presents it as an accomplished fact. Anyway, if people feel safe and protected by one another, they might not care about legalities.

Rosales’ team could wisely benefit from this preparation process to boost the campaign. Certain phrases could be repeated and transformed it into a kind of mantra: “Peaceful revolutions have happened before, why not in Venezuela?” Thousands of citizens peacefully but forcefully defending their votes would be quite a thing to see.

The manual counts have to be extremely well documented with pictures, movies, times, and dates, with the presence of valid officials, judges, notaries, attorneys (there have to be quite a few non-aligned ones). Actas should have the signature of 10, 100, or even more witnesses and multiple copies should be made, especially if the electronic count does not match the paper count. Meetings should be held with international observers before the fact, to ensure they are aware of what is going on.

Remember that the main goal is to force the CNE to play fair and to accomplish it even the obvious needs to be watched.

-Make sure that the principle of 'one person one vote' is followed (ink in the pinkie and vigilant table witnesses).
-Make sure the boxes have not been stuffed before or after the vote.
-Make sure the actas are not manipulated.
-Corroborate the content of the voting boxes against the local machine 'acta'
-Corroborate the local 'actas' against the CNE reports.
-Corroborate the CNE report arithmetic.
- Demand to have the random selection done with a completely manual system, like the Spanish lottery (or something of the sort), to avoid 'spiked' databases.
-Vote early, and make anything possible to reduce the delays that will be imposed in the process.

“The only way to get things moving is to instill hope, to act with the conviction that things can be better, so that that conviction instills hope in others. The multiplication effect of this attitude, taking the challenges for what they are, breeds the creativity to overcome the problems, there is no need to be naïve about them, there is no reason to be blinded by optimism, but there is the need to do something about it. Apathy would not create such conditions. That's why any Opposition candidate's first priority has to be to instill hope, has to be to show Venezuelans that the great majority want change, so participation is the key and apathy is stopped.”


Colaborators: Edgar Brown, Virginia, Damn, Ruben pero Hojillas, Gustavo and Cristina.