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Final Carter Center Report on 2000 Venezuela Elections Cites Flaws, Urges Reforms to Process

Caracas, Venezuela…..The final report from the Carter Center's observation of the 2000 Venezuela elections and the 1999 constitutional assembly calls for reforms to electoral procedures to build voter confidence in the process and avoid deficiencies that flawed the July 2000 elections.

Recognizing the need to provide legal certainty for the country, the very complex elections were organized quickly, thus producing extraordinary pressures on the election authorities. After the failed May elections, the new CNE, though more independent and technically capable, continued to face formidable challenges, producing disputed results. "While we do not believe that the election irregularities would have changed the 2000 presidential results, the significant politicization of the elections and organizational deficiencies contributed to a lack of confidence in the process, thus leading us to characterize the July 2000 elections as flawed," according to the report released today.

The Carter Center monitored all aspects of political transition in Venezuela from fall 1998 through January 2001, and suggested ways to improve the electoral process following both the December 1998 and July 2000 national elections. These recommendations include:

1) extensive national simulations of the automated voting system open to the parties, media, and election observers;
2) pre- and post-hoc audits of the system and electoral registry as a routine part of the electoral process;
3) extensive consultation in selecting National Election Council directors to ensure wide confidence in their neutrality and capacity; and
4) timely resolution of appeals.

The report also reiterated the Center's earlier recommendations after the 1998 elections, which included the need to: better educate voters and train poll workers; improve the electoral registry, reduce congestion in voting centers and long waits to vote, clarify the substitution rules for candidates, and simplify the ballot.

Evaluating the overall strength of democracy in Venezuela, the report said that, although the government repeatedly consulted citizens in the past two years on national questions, the public perception that partisan choices were made for justices and election authorities in 2000 weakened institutional independence and citizen confidence.

"Venezuela's task as it renews its democracy is to ensure that the representative and republican dimensions of its democracy match the participatory dimension," said Dr. Jennifer McCoy, director of the Center's Latin American and Caribbean Program. "This means that in addition to elections and referenda to consult the people, a strong democracy requires a rule of law that applies equally to all citizens. It also requires independent institutions, like the congress, the courts, the control agencies, and the electoral council, that can represent the people and ensure that power is used appropriately within the political system."

The Carter Center monitored elections in Venezuela beginning with the fall 1998 regional and presidential elections, continuing through the work of the constitutional assembly in 1999, and concluding with an international delegation for the July 2000 elections and observation of recounts and appeals resolution. In-country representatives reported regularly to Center headquarters in Atlanta, and the Center organized 10 study missions and interim delegations to report on preparations for and dispute resolutions following each of the seven elections in Venezuela in the last two years.

Editor's Note: The full text in Spanish of the Center's report on the 2000 Venezuelan election can be found under "What's News/On-Line Reports/Election Reports" at:

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