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Thursday, September 09, 2004

Electoral fraud in Venezuela

Opinion Journal:

Both the Bush Administration and former President Jimmy Carter were quick to bless the results of last month's Venezuelan recall vote, but it now looks like they were had. A statistical analysis by a pair of economists suggests that the random-sample "audit" results that the Americans trusted weren't random at all. This is no small matter. The imprimatur of Mr. Carter and his Carter Center election observers is being used by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to claim a mandate. The anti-American strongman has been steering his country toward dictatorship and is stirring up trouble throughout Latin America. If the recall election wasn't fair, why would Americans want to endorse it?
I know that I was surprised at the outcome of the Venezualan elections and suspected they were unfair immediately. Then when the Carter Center gave it's blessing on the results I assumed that they knew what they were talking about. It looks like they were had, and from this article, they really should have known better.
The new study was released this week by economists Ricardo Hausmann of Harvard and Roberto Rigobon of MIT. They zeroed in on a key problem with the August 18 vote audit that was run by the government's electoral council (CNE): In choosing which polling stations would be audited, the CNE refused to use the random number generator recommended by the Carter Center. Instead, the CNE insisted on its own program, run on its own computer. Mr. Carter's team acquiesced, and Messrs. Hausmann and Rigobon conclude that, in controlling this software, the government had the means to cheat.
So basically, the Venezualan government said, "No, we don't want to use your random selector, you have to use ours instead." If someone told me something like that I would assume immediately that they were planning to cheat. If the election is fair, the government would not care which polling stations were audited. Now, none if this is proof that the Venezualan government cheated on the election. It is pretty convincing that the Carter Center cannot make the claim that the elections were fair however. Given that the elections were more favorable to Chavez than was expected by opinion polling previous to the election and the behavior of the Chavez administration in setting up these conditions for the Carter Center I would say it is extremely likely that electoral fraud was committed. It is unfortunate that the Carter Center allowed itself to be duped in this way. In the future I will have less trust in their pronouncements.


Blogger Cubicle said...

not only opionion polls but exit polls also said different things.

not saying they cheated, not saying they didn't

9/09/2004 08:11:00 AM  

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