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Caracas, Saturday October 30 , 2004  
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Venezuelans may only witness the printing out of tally sheets
Voters will not be allowed to observe manual count of paper ballots
Jorge García Carneiro said a security plan to protect electoral centers and voters nationwide is ready, with 120,000 military troopers. Jesse Chacón reminded that Ley Seca, a prohibition to drink alcohol during the election, is in force as of Saturday noon. Police corps are to be confined to their headquarters nationwide since midnight on Saturday.

MARIA LILIBETH DA CORTE

EL UNIVERSAL

Interior Relations and Justice Minister, Jesse Chacón, Friday stated that voters will be allowed to witness the printing out of tally sheets, but "they will have to leave" the electoral center when the selected paper ballot box is audited, during the October 31 election for governors, mayors, and local lawmakers.

"We urge Venezuelans to understand that this is what the (automated electoral) system is about; this is the right procedure. In this way, we will not have to activate the Plan República to remove people from the electoral centers," Chacón warned.

He explained that only the designated electoral witnesses will be allowed to be in the electoral center when the selected machine is audited "under the terms that have been agreed to with the opposition actors."

Chacón's statements came at the Vice President's Office, after he met with Vice President José Vicente Rangel, Defense Minister Jorge García Carneiro, and the chief officers of the country's top security bodies in order to discuss a nationwide security plan that is to be deployed during the October 31 regional and local election.

After the meeting, Chacón and García Carneiro gave a news conference to elaborate on the security plan. Nevertheless, Chacón preferred to specify the rules for the presence of voters at the electoral centers during the count of votes.

Chacón said "leaflets and e-mails have been published making Venezuelans believe that the audit is a part of the vote count, which is false. In an automated electoral process, the vote count is the printing of the tally sheets. The public process ends there."

He indicated that depending on the size of each electoral center "Venezuelans will be capable of witnessing the printing out of the tally sheets before the transmission (of the electoral results to the headquarters of the National Electoral Center). Once the printing out is completed, the voting station to be audited will be randomly selected in order to check the paper ballots. This process does not make part of the vote count: it is a part of the audit."

Everything is ready for the election

García Carneiro ensured that a security plan to protect electoral centers and voters nationwide is ready, with 120,000 military troopers.

Chacón reminded that Ley Seca, a prohibition to drink alcohol during the election, is in force as of Saturday noon. Police corps are to be confined to their headquarters nationwide since midnight on Saturday. People are not allowed to conduct public meetings and the country's borders will be closed. Permits to carry firearms were suspended as of Friday night.

García Carneiro ensured the transportation of the paper ballot boxes will be made in a transparent and safe way. He claimed it is impossible to manipulate said boxes, as opposition actors tried to make people believe during the August 15 presidential recall referendum.

The people shall prevail

García Carneiro also warned governors and mayors who are defeated during the October 31 election and refuse to hand over power, that "we are not in a country where people do whatever they want." He added that the National Armed Force "is ready to face anything."

"In the end, the people will show up at the governor's offices and mayor's offices to demand the CNE to respect their decision," García Carneiro added.

Translated by Maryflor Suárez



See also:
- CNE: Audit shows good results
- Defense Minister: Losers will have to leave their offices
- Balloting machines audited before election

 
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