November 22, 2021 –A delegation of National Lawyers Guild members traveled to Venezuela to monitor regional elections which occurred November 21,2021. We observed a balanced and transparent voting process which voters expressed confidence in.
Our delegation was made up of eight observers and we visited a total of 12 sites in Caracas and surrounding states. Specifically, we visited provinces within Miranda and La Guaira states. We spoke extensively with election monitors from all over the globe who visited voting sites in other states.
From a technical point of view, we observed an electoral system that was fundamentally transparent and facilitated by a workforce (poll workers, coordinators, table presidents) with strong technical competence regarding the functioning of the machines and the integrated election systems.
We had opportunities to speak with voters at all the sites we visited. We found that voters aligned with opposition parties also expressed confidence in the voting system. Additionally, the participation of opposition parties at polling sites, including as witnesses in opening and closing processes, strengthened the process and underscored the legitimacy of election results.
At a number of points throughout the day we witnessed voters frustrated with the heat, “wait times”, some technical malfunctions and occasionally with some confusion finding themselves on the voter rolls. These instances were not the norm at the sites we visited and therefore do not find that these incidents amount to systemic flaws or election “irregularities.” Instead, they appear to be part of a complex, far-reaching, and broad election system intended to be accessible in all corners of a country of almost 29 million people, while under US sanctions.
“We are clear that in all parts of the world, including in the United States, there exist Election Day dynamics which can complicate the electoral process, but which do not undermine or delegitimize an open and free process such as this.” said NLG delegate Vladimir Martinez.
Overall we observed a climate of political energy grounded in an understanding that the voting day process, regardless of one’s individual political ideology, functions fairly and is received as legitimate. Also, we observed that the level of voter participation— almost 42% of registered voters in the context of a non-presidential election, COVID-19, and severe economic sanctions—is significant and worthy of note.
Therefore, we reject the U.S. State Department’s false characterization that Venezuelans were denied “their right to participate in a free and fair electoral process”. “The U.S.’s consistently false narrative of elections in Venezuela is formulated to legitimize the continuation of U.S. sanctions, which are violations of international law and amount to economic warfare,” said Suzanne Adely, NLG President and member of the delegation. “The U.S. sanctions harm the Veneuelan people and aim to undermine and destabilize Venezuela in order to further U.S. interests in the region.”
The NLG has previously accompanied elections in Venezuela; see our 2015 report on the legislative elections. The report of its delegation to the 2013 presidential election and the ensuing audit can be found at: www.nlginternational.org/report/Venezuela_2013_NLG.pdf.