The CNE does not require parliamentary candidates to reside in the states that they aspire to represent in the National Assembly

The CNE does not require parliamentary candidates to reside in the states that they aspire to represent in the National Assembly

Aug 21, 2015

The interpretation by the National Electoral Council (Consejo Nacional Electoral, CNE) of Article 188 of the Constitution allows candidates to the National Assembly to reside in Caracas, but be nominated for other regions in the country.

The aforementioned article requires that the candidate resides “four consecutive years in the corresponding region before the date of the election.” For various constitutional experts, this provision is targeted to avoiding fraud in the principle of representation. However, the directors of the CNE have a looser interpretation of this article. At the time when the General Regulation of the Organic Law of Electoral Processes (Ley Orgánica de Procesos Electorales, LOPRE) was drafted, it was specified in Article 113 that the four years of residence could be met “at any time before the election.” In other words: the regulation drafted by the the CNE directors allows for a candidate to be nominated even if he is not currently a resident in the region which he aspires to represent.

From the rectors’ perspective “before the election” means “any time,” which is different than what is stated for other positions where it is explicitly set “immediately before the election.” The electoral law and its application is so general, that it allows a candidate to run for a position as deputy even if he or she is not registered to vote in the region that he or she aims to represent. The latter is the case of the three main candidates of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela, PSUV) and the Democratic Unity Roundtable (Mesa de la Unidad Democrática, MUD). For example, the First Lady of the Republic Cilia Flores was nominated as head of the PSUV list in the state of Cojedes despite being registered to vote in the Bolivarian High School Miguel Antonio Caro, located in the Sucre parish of the Capital District. A similar case is found in the application of Education Minister Hector Rodriguez who appears registered as a voter in the state of Carabobo in the municipality of Naguanagua, specifically at the National School Bárbula, while the current deputy for the District Capital Dario Vivas, aspires for re-election as the head of the list in the Vargas state, although he is registered to vote in the Educational Unit Isaura Correa in the Macarao parish located in the Capital District.

The list of candidates running in areas where they do not vote can be extended to the case of Roque Valero, second in the list of the PSUV in Aragua state but registered to vote in the San Pedro parish of the Capital District, in the Carmel school. Among the MUD candidates, the most obvious case is that of Carlos Vecchio (who has been outside of the country since 2014 when he was issued an arrest warrant). Vecchio is head of the list in Monagas state, but he is registered to vote in the municipality of Baruta, Miranda state.

The way in which the CNE interprets Article 188 of the Constitution allows oddities, such as allowing on person’s candidacy in three different legislative periods representing three different states. This is the case of the deputy and chairman of the Public Accounts Committee of the current National Assembly, Pedro Carreño, who was elected deputy for the state of Barinas in 2005, elected deputy to represent the state of Lara in 2010, and for the December 6 elections he was nominated as a candidate by the Delta Amacuro state.

A similar case is found in the MUD with Deputy Alfonso Marquina, who in 2010 was elected as parliamentarian for one of the districts of Miranda state and for December 6 was nominated leading the list of Lara state.

Extemporaneous changes. To prevent speaking about fraud at the beginning of the representation, in 20120 the CNE adopted the practice of amending the Electoral Registry (ER) of candidates who are nominated in jurisdictions where they are not registered to vote. These modifications have been made outside the legal period allowed to request changes in the ER.

In 2012 the CNE rectors agreed to extemporaneously change the gubernatorial candidates Aristóbulo Istúriz (Anzoátegui) from PSUV; José Gregorio Vielma Mora (Tachira); Yelitze Santaella (Monagas); Tarek El Aissami (Aragua); Érika Farías (Cojedes) and Ramón Rodríguez Chacín (Guarico). None of these candidates― current governors― voted in the states in which they were nominated.

The most emblematic case was that of the current governor of Aragua state, who was assigned a different voting center along with family members, despite the closure of the legal period for changes in the voting registry.

This practice was repeated for the local elections held in December 2013 when the CNE belatedly amended the Electoral Registry of Miguel Pérez Pirela, the PSUV mayoral candidate for Maracaibo, Zulia and Antonio “El Potro” Álvarez, PSUV mayoral candidate for Sucre, Miranda. In both cases, candidates of the PSUV were voting in municipalities different to those that they were aspiring to govern.

To date, opposition candidates have not benefited from exceptional and extemporaneous measures in the Electoral Registry.

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