Over 20M Voters,14k Candidates, 98 Opposition Parties, 277 seats

After the call for parliamentary elections announced on July 1, Venezuela is technically ready to hold the elections next Sunday, December 6, in which more than 14 thousand candidates, belonging to 107 parties and organizations with political ends (98 of which are defined as opposition) will contest one of the 277 seats of deputies that will make up the National Assembly for the next constitutional parliamentary period, from January 5, 2021 to January 4, 2026.

The organization of these elections will be under the rectory of the National Electoral Council (CNE) -the highest body of the Electoral Power, which in Venezuela is one of the five public powers of the State-, that successfully advances the schedule started on July 1 with  the call for elections, and which includes, among other important events, 16 audits (12 prior to voting day, 1 carried out by citizens on election day and 3 after), all of them supervised by representatives of the participating parties, without distinction of political tendencies.

In this way, complying with the deadlines established in the current regulations, the Electoral Registry has already been refined and updated, incorporating more than 250 thousand new voters, until reaching an electoral roll made up of 20.710.421 voters.

For these elections, the 87 electoral districts in force in the parliamentary elections of 2015 remain (when the opposition obtained the majority in the National Assembly). Of this total, 53 constituencies are single-member, representing 60.92%, and 34 multi-member, representing 39.08%. The same mechanism adopted 5 years ago on gender parity and alternation is also applied, which contemplates the nomination of 50% of candidates for each gender.

Likewise, two electoral drills have been held, held on October 25 and November 15, by means of which the electoral body tests the correct functioning of all the components of the electoral system, while the citizens become familiar with the voting scheme and the biosafety that will govern the December elections, which are held under exceptional conditions, due to the context of the pandemic and the economic and financial blockade facing the country.

One of the main novelties presented by the CNE for the 2020 parliamentarian elections is the new electoral technological solution. The new EC21 voting machine is at the forefront of technology. It was designed in Venezuela, by Venezuelan technicians, with the experience accumulated in the Electoral Power during 20 years, in which a knowledge database has been built that allows the constant updating and evolution of the electoral system along with technology, to continue guaranteeing the country transparent, safe and reliable elections.

The EC21 was subjected to rigorous technical and scientific tests, of protocols established by more than 60 technicians, until a robust, modern and auditable solution was achieved in each of its components to shield the vote. It is integrated into the Integral Authentication Device (SAI) so the principle of one voter, one vote is fulfilled. Therefore, it guarantees the security and integrity in the protection of the information (the secrecy of the vote), biometric authentication, automated counting process, transmission of results in a secure way, auditable software in each of the modules that make it up and the chain of trust to organizations with political purposes, which participate in each audit.

Another of the peculiarities of this electoral process, in the context of the pandemic, is the biosafety protocol established in specific rules and regulations, with the aim of avoiding contagion by Covid-19 and guaranteeing, together with the right to vote, the right to health.

It requires, among other bio sanitary measures, social distancing, the provision of gel and alcohol to disinfect hands and the mandatory use of face masks.  The CNE has also appointed a biosecurity coordinator for each electoral center.

The EC21 machine also contributes to these ends, by reducing voting times to below 20 seconds, and the reengineering of the route at the voting table, which ensures that each person votes in the shortest possible time.

Likewise, within the framework of the Biosafety Plan, a new online transmission mechanism was designed for technical audits, in order to guarantee the greatest participation of international experts and national observers in this way. This is due to the fact that in all cases, experts from political parties must be present at each audit and social distancing imposes limitations in terms of physical space.

In the audits carried out to date, international observers have participated, such as the members of the Latin American Council of Electoral Experts (CEELA), which also constituted an electoral mission that has already visited the country on two occasions, it has held more than 20 meetings with representatives of political parties and it has presented a report prior to the parliamentary elections.

CEELA representatives have highlighted that there is great trust and acceptance towards the voting machine and the electoral authority, both on the part of the opposition and of organizations related to the government.  They also celebrated that all political forces recognize the transparency of the electoral system.

Additionally, on November 15, began the deployment to transport electoral material to all corners of the national territory, under the custody of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB), which in more than 60 years of Venezuelan democratic tradition subordinates its logistical capacities and of assurance under the orders of the electoral authorities, and which this year reaches more than 14 thousand polling stations that will be activated in the 87 electoral districts throughout the country.

Meanwhile, the electoral campaign is taking place simultaneously, which began on November 3 and should end on December 3, which has been taking place under the aforementioned special conditions required by the pandemic.

Finally, on Sunday, December 6, there will be free, safe and transparent elections, and that same day the official results will be known, thanks to the fact that Venezuela has an automated, highly efficient and reliable electoral system.

These elections will allow the country to recover the institutionality and legality of a vital instance for democracy, such as the National Assembly, a diverse, plural space that contributes to national dialogue and the construction of new balances.

With this process, the Venezuelan people will give a new message to the world about their deep and deeply rooted peaceful and democratic will:  To recover the National Assembly to act with respect to the principles of sovereignty and self-determination, to serve the supreme interests of Venezuela, once again to be the center of the political debate to settle differences and to contribute to the progress and well-being of the country, this is at the same time a  commitment and motivation to participate in parliamentary elections.

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