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Venezuela--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report (Revised April 15, 2013)
 

Venezuela--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report (Revised April 15, 2013)

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Revised as of April 15, 2013 (Revision #1) ...

Revised as of April 15, 2013 (Revision #1)

Executive Summary

The Venezuelan federal electoral system is very satisfactory as determined by the overall audit score of 78.83 percent (out of 100 percent). The FDA auditors measured

1) one unsatisfactory passing score for legislation pertaining to electoral finance (52.5 percent);
2) one very satisfactory score for legislation pertaining to candidates and parties (77.9%);
3) two exceptional scores for legislation pertaining to media election coverage
(100 percent) and voters (84.9 percent).

The FDA audit focused on 52 variables, and it utilized matrices, financial analysis, and scoring scales. The most notable areas of the system are Venezuela’s commitment to complete and balanced election coverage, thereby supporting a fair playing field for candidates and parties, and a commitment to people’s right to vote and the act of voting through various innovative and progressive measures. However, electoral finances of candidates and parties are only transparent to the state, and there are no direct caps on campaign contributions and no direct limits on expenditures. The lack of public financial transparency creates the potential for pro-government parties to pursue corrupt financial practices and leave anti-government parties subject to unjust assessments of their finances including targeting their contributors. The lack of caps and limits on electoral finances may create an unfair playing field in the realms of billboards, flyers, posters, and campaign events, because these media are not covered by the complete and balanced coverage requirement. The FDA has no evidence of electoral financial wrongdoing, as does no one else, because only the Venezuelan State through the National Electoral Council is privy to party finances. The FDA recommends reforms that will bring about public electoral finance transparency, caps on campaign contributions and limits on campaign expenditures. If implemented these reforms would make the Venezuelan electoral system a model for the rest of the world. As it stands, these limitations have the potential to allow for corrupt financial practices and create unfair playing fields for candidates and parties.

Overall the FDA recommends that the public get continuously and actively involved with the government legislative process and implementation if they want to protect and advance their democratic voice, and create a society of their choosing.


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    Venezuela--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report (Revised April 15, 2013) Venezuela--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report (Revised April 15, 2013) Document Transcript

    • 2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit of theBolivarian Republic of Venezuela‘s FederalElectoral SystemElectoral Fairness Audit Completed October 1, 2012Revised as of April 15, 2013Executive SummaryThe Venezuelan federal electoral system is very satisfactory as determined by the overallaudit score of 78.83 percent (out of 100 percent). The FDA auditors measured1) one unsatisfactory passing score for legislation pertaining to electoral finance(52.5 percent);2) one very satisfactory score for legislation pertaining to candidates and parties(77.9 percent);3) two exceptional scores for legislation pertaining to media election coverage(100 percent) and voters (84.9 percent).The FDA audit focused on 52 variables, and it utilized matrices, financial analysis, andscoring scales. The most notable areas of the system are Venezuela‘s commitment tocomplete and balanced election coverage, thereby supporting a fair playing field forcandidates and parties, and a commitment to people‘s right to vote and the act of votingthrough various innovative and progressive measures. However, electoral finances ofcandidates and parties are only transparent to the state, and there are no direct caps oncampaign contributions and no direct limits on expenditures. The lack of public financialtransparency creates the potential for pro-government parties to pursue corrupt financialpractices and leave anti-government parties subject to unjust assessments of their financesincluding targeting their contributors. The lack of caps and limits on electoral finances maycreate an unfair playing field in the realms of billboards, flyers, posters, and campaignevents, because these media are not covered by the complete and balanced coveragerequirement. The FDA has no evidence of electoral financial wrongdoing, as does no oneelse, because only the Venezuelan State through the National Electoral Council is privy toparty finances. The FDA recommends reforms that will bring about public electoral financetransparency, caps on campaign contributions and limits on campaign expenditures. Ifimplemented these reforms would make the Venezuelan electoral system a model for therest of the world. As it stands, these limitations have the potential to allow for corruptfinancial practices and create unfair playing fields for candidates and parties.Overall the FDA recommends that the public get continuously and actively involved withthe government legislative process and implementation if they want to protect and advancetheir democratic voice, and create a society of their choosing.
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 2 of 70Prepared ByMr. Stephen Garvey, Executive Director Foundation for Democratic Advancement, Bachelor ofArts in Political Science, University of British Columbia and Master of Philosophy inEnvironment and Development, University of Cambridge.Purpose of the Venezuelan Electoral Fairness AuditThe purpose of the Foundation for Democratic Advancement (FDA)‘s electoral fairness audit(the ―Audit‖) is to determine a comprehensive grade for electoral fairness in Venezuela at theexecutive and assembly levels of government. This Audit is an extension of the FDA‘s globalaudit of electoral fairness involving all countries that hold political elections. The purpose of theglobal audit is to quantify electoral fairness, establish benchmarks for electoral fairness, identifyareas of democratic advancement and progression, and encourage democracy reform whereneeded.The goal of the FDAs Venezuela report is to give the people of Venezuela and otherstakeholders an informed, objective perspective of the Venezuelan federal electoral system andprovide recommendations for reform. Venezuelans may want to use this information as a way tohelp determine their electoral choices. The release of the FDA‘s revised Venezuela report justprior to the 2013 Venezuelan Presidential Election coincides with this initiative.The views in this electoral fairness audit are the views of the FDA only. The FDA‘s members arein no way affiliated with the National Electoral Council or any of the Venezuelan registered/non-registered political parties. The Audit is an independent assessment based on objectivity,transparency and non-partisanship. The FDA assumes no responsibility or liability for any errorsin the measurement and calculation of its audit results or inaccuracies in its research of relevantVenezuelan legislation.About the Foundation for Democratic AdvancementThe Foundation for Democratic Advancement (FDA) is an international independent, non-partisan democracy organization. The FDA‘s mission isto measure, study, and communicate the impact of government processes on a free anddemocratic society.Overall, the FDA works1. to ensure that people become more knowledgeable about the outcomes ofgovernment processes and can then make decisions that are more informed;2. to get people involved in monitoring government processes at all levels ofgovernment and in providing sound, practical, and effective suggestions. (For moreinformation on the FDA visit: www.democracychange.org)
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 3 of 70To ensure its objectivity and independence, the FDA does not conduct privately paid research.However, if you or your organization has an important research idea or are aware of an importantissue on government processes, the FDA is available to listen to your idea or issue and possiblyhelp raise public awareness by initiating and leading change through report research andanalysis. Please contact the FDA at (403) 669-8132 or email us at info@democracychange.orgfor more information.An online version of this report can be found at: www.democracychange.orgFor further information and/or comments on this report please contact Mr. Stephen Garvey atstephen.garvey@democracychange.org
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 4 of 70Table of ContentsIntroduction 5How to Read the Report 7Chapter 1: Electoral Finance Audit Results 11Analysis 19Chapter 2: Media Election Content Audit Results 21Analysis 28Chapter 3: Candidates and Parties Audit Results 30Analysis 42Chapter 4: Voters Audit Results 43Analysis 52Chapter 5: Overall Audit Results 53Chapter 6: Analysis 54Chapter 7: Conclusion and Recommendations 57References 60Appendix: Research Methodology 64FDA Research and Audit Teams and Observers 69
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 5 of 70IntroductionThe FDA based its audit of Venezuela‘s federal electoral legislation on non-partisanship andobjectivity.The audit process entails three major components:1) Research of Venezuelas federal electoral legislation and any related legislation anddocuments.2) Audit of the legislation and research findings based on audit team consensus, and the FDA‘smatrices, financial spreadsheets, and scoring scales.3) Analysis of findings.The FDA based the matrix scoring scales on the fundamental democratic principles of legislativeneutrality, political freedom, and political fairness. In addition, it based the scales on thecomparative impact of variables on democracy. For example, if there is no electoral financetransparency then this result will affect other variables such as caps on contributions. Withoutfinancial transparency, it is near impossible to enforce electoral finance laws, which prevent anduncover electoral finance wrongdoing. Consequently, according to the FDA‘s matrices, zerofinancial transparency will lower the score for caps on contributions.The FDA‘s research component is objective as it is simply a compilation of the legislativeinformation and financial data for the Venezuelan system and any related findings based in factand sound empirical research.The FDA‘s audit component is both objective and subjective. It is objective when determiningyes and no facts, such as does country ―A‖ have caps on electoral contributions—yes or no? It issubjective because of the predetermined scores for each audit section, and the scores determinedfor each section. The FDA acknowledges that there is no absolute scoring system ordetermination of scores.The FDA minimizes subjectivity through non-partisanship and basing each score on facts,research findings, financial calculations, and team audit consensus. It bases the scoring scales foreach section of the audit on consensus of the FDA auditors and survey results of relevantpersons. In addition, the application of core democratic concepts such as electoral legislativeneutrality, political freedom, and political fairness, and the comparative impact of variables ondemocracy inform the scoring scales. Finally, the FDA requires a minimum quorum of fiveexperienced auditors during audit sessions. For further discussion of the FDA methodology,please see the Appendix on page 63.
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 6 of 70The FDA is a registered non-profit corporation, and therefore it cannot issue tax-deductiblereceipts. In addition, the FDA is the sole funder of this report. As a policy to maintain itsindependence and objectivity, the FDA does not conduct privately funded research projects. TheFDA relies on donations. If you value this report, please consider donating to the Foundationfor Democratic Advancement to help cover the costs of producing this report and communicatingits content to the stakeholders, and to continue its work on Venezuela.“Democracy is not a spectator sport.”- Marian Edelman
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 7 of 70How to Read the ReportChapters 1 to 4 focus on the four sections of the FDA‘s audit of the Venezuelan federal electoralsystem. These chapters are formatted in the following manner1) Chapter summary and table of audit results for the section.2) Audit questions, legislative research and audit findings on each audit subsection.3) Analysis of audit measurements and findings for the section.Chapter 6, ‗Overall Analysis‘, pertains to the measurements and findings from all four auditsections.Definition of Key TermsThe Foundation for Democratic Advancement characterized the following definitionsCandidates and parties (audit section three)The opportunity and ability of candidates and parties to campaign in the public domain forelected positions. This opportunity and ability occur before, during, and after an election period.Candidates and parties may involve election content of media, electoral finance, and voters (asdefined below). In the terms of the FDA electoral fairness audit, which focuses on electoralprocess, candidates and parties includes:1) Registrations requirements for candidates and parties.2) Laws on candidates‘ and parties‘ access to media and reasonable opportunity to takeadvantage of the access.3) Regulations on access to major debates.4) Electoral complaints process for candidates and partiesIn the FDA electoral fairness audit, candidates and parties only encompasses laws, regulations,procedures etc. that affect the influence of candidates and parties. For example, candidates andparties does not encompass laws on electoral complaints by voters nor does it encompass laws onvoter assistance at polling booths.Electoral fairnessThe impartiality and equality of election law before, during, and after an election period. In thecontext of the audit, electoral fairness involves concepts relating to election content in the media,candidates and parties, electoral finance, and voters. In particular, this includes evaluatingimpartiality and balance of political content in the media, equitable opportunity and ability forregistered candidates and parties to influence voters and government, equitable electoral financelaws, and equitable opportunity and ability for voters to voice political views and/or influencethe outcome of an election.
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 8 of 70Electoral fairness does not allow bias through, for example, legislation that gives a distinctelectoral advantage to one registered party over another, or laws that allow equitable access tomedia without facilitating equal opportunity to take advantage of this access. In contrast,electoral fairness would include a broad, balanced diffusion of electoral propaganda byregistered political parties during the campaign period, equal campaign finances (beyond equalexpenditure limits) for all registered parties according to the number of candidates endorsed, andthe registration of parties based on reasonable popular support (rather than financial deposit orunreasonable popular support).Electoral fairness in any democratic process must include an equal playing field for registeredparties and candidates, distinguishable by voters according to a clear political platform, and abroad and balanced political discourse in where information about electoral choices are clear andavailable to the voting public.Electoral finance (audit section one)Electoral finance laws applied to registered candidates and parties before, during, and after anelection period. Electoral finance also encompasses campaign finance which is restricted to thecampaign period.In the context of the FDA electoral fairness audit, electoral finance includes:1) Caps on electoral contributions (or the lack of).2) Caps on candidate and party electoral expenditures (or the lack of).3) Procedures for financial disclosure and reporting of candidate and party electoral finance.4) Procedures for the handling of electoral contributions by registered candidates and parties.Electoral finance does not include non-financial laws, regulations, procedures etc. such as thoserelating to candidate and party access to media, civil rights laws such as freedom of speech andassembly, rules on right of reply in the media, laws on the election content of media, and laws onvoter assistance.Special interest-based democracyA system in where either individual or corporate interests dictate government action and factionswith the most economic and political power in society influence policies and legislation. Theelectoral system is set up to allow special and minority interests to impact election outcomesprimarily through electoral finance and media access and exposure.People-based democracyA system where power is invested in the people and the population as a whole influencegovernment policies and legislation. The electoral system is set up in a fair and equitable mannerso that all citizens, within reason, have an opportunity to influence the election outcome to thesame degree.
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 9 of 70Media election coverage (audit section two)The political content of radio and television broadcasters, the printed press, and online newsmedia such as news sites before, during, and after an election period. This content may includenews stories, editorials, articles, programs, and group analysis and discussion. It does not includeelectoral advertisements by candidates, parties, and third parties. Electoral advertisements bycandidates and parties are included in candidates and parties, and electoral advertisements bythird parties are included in voters and electoral finance.In the context of FDA electoral fairness audit, election content of media includes:1) Registration requirements for television and radio broadcast companies and press companies.2) Laws on the ownership concentration of media (or the lack of).3) Laws on the election content of media before, during, and after a campaign period.4) Laws on freedom of the press and broadcasters.The FDA defines ―balance‖ in the media as having equal political content of all registeredpolitical parties presented during the election period. Voters should receive balanced informationon all registered candidates and parties in order for election outcomes to reflect the will of themajority. The FDA does not support the idea that incumbent or previously successful partiesshould be favoured in media coverage in a current election as this could create bias based merelyon past results, and potentially weaken the process of capturing the will of the people in thepresent. In addition, the FDA does not support unlimited freedom of broadcast and press mediaand believes there is a misleading connection between this and democracy. The purpose ofdemocratic elections is to capture as accurately as possible the will of the people from districts.Broad and balanced electoral discourse creates an informed electorate and supports the will ofthe people. The FDA concedes that media ownership concentration laws aimed to producepluralistic ownership could cancel out any imbalance in political content and provide equitablecoverage of all registered political parties.Voters (audit section four)The citizens who are eligible to vote and their opportunity to express that vote and a politicalvoice through articles, letters to editors, blogs, advertisements, spoken word etc. in the publicdomain. Voter influence applies to the period before, during, and after an election.In the context of the FDA electoral fairness audit, which focuses on electoral process, votersinclude:1) Laws and regulations on freedom of speech and assembly.2) Laws on the registration requirements for voters.3) Laws on voter assistance at the polling booth.4) Laws on the inclusion of minorities in the electoral process.In the context of the FDA electoral fairness audit, voters may be impacted by the election contentof media, and candidates and parties and electoral finance law. For example, no cap oncontributions to candidates and parties will affect voters because no cap favors voters with more
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 10 of 70financial wealth, and thereby the lack of cap creates electoral inequity and imbalance amongvoters.
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 11 of 70Chapter One: Electoral FinanceThis chapter focuses on Venezuelan electoral finance laws and the FDAs audit of them in termsof electoral fairness. Based on the political concepts of egalitarianism and political liberalism,the FDA team audits electoral finance laws according to their equity for registered candidates,parties, and voters (see Appendix on page 63 for further explanation). The FDA team audits fromthe standpoint of a peoples representative democracy. Table 1 below shows the FDA‘s auditvariables, their corresponding audit weights, and results:Table 1Electoral FinanceSection Variables% SubsectionAudit WeightNumericalSubsection AuditWeightAuditResults% ResultsElectoral FinanceTransparency20% 2.0 0.0 0.0%Contributions toCandidates & Parties15% 1.5 1.0 100%Caps on Contributionsto Candidates & Parties20% 2.0 1.25 62.5%Campaign ExpenditureLimits22.5% 2.25 1.0 44.44%Caps on Third-partyExpenditures12.5% 1.25 1.0 80%Legislative Process 10% 1.0 1.0 100%Variables from OtherSectionsn/a n/a n/a n/aTotal 100% 10 5.25 52.5%The FDA chose these subsections because they represent core areas of electoral finance. Theaudit of electoral finance includes examination of Venezuelan electoral finance legislation andthe application of legislative research to the FDA matrices. Matrix scoring is based on an overallscore of 0 to 10 out of 10.What follows are the audit questions, legislative research, and audit findings:Electoral Finance TransparencyAudit Questions1) Are candidate and party finances transparent to the public?2) Are candidate and party finances transparent to candidates and parties only?3) Are candidate and party finances transparent to the government only?
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 12 of 70Legislative ResearchThe National Electoral Council has the authority to set guidelines for financing and political-electoral advertising and impose penalties when these guidelines are not followed (ElectionPower Act, Article 33 (20) and Venezuela Constitution, Article 293(3)).The National Electoral Council has the authority to determine and regulate all matters pertainingto the financing of national election campaigns (Election Power Act, Article 33 (23)).The National Electoral Council has the authority to ensure compliance with laws on financing ofelection campaigns of political organizations, constituency, civic groups, or citizens andindependent candidates (Election Power Act, Article 33 (24)).The Committee on Political Participation and Financing has the authority to control, regulate,and investigate funds for political purposes and electoral campaign financing (Election PowerAct, Article 64).Representatives of candidates and the candidates must report in writing to the National ElectoralCouncil the name, identity card or Tax Information Registry of the persons authorized to pay forpropaganda (Election Law, Article 74).The state requires political parties to document and account for their income and investments.Political parties must submit a general ledger or inventory book to the state and must retain thoserecords for five years (Law on Political Parties, Article 25(6).The state requires political organizations, voter groups, indigenous communities andorganizations, and candidates to register in the Electoral Registration Financial Informationwithin five days before the start of an election campaign (Election Resolution No. 100304-0043,Article 258).The state requires political organizations, voter groups, indigenous communities andorganizations, and candidates to register through the System Automated information of income,expenses, receivables and accounts payable, within the first five (5) calendar days to the end ofeach month, and be activated 5 days prior to the start of an election campaign (ElectionResolution No. 100304-0043, Article 259).The Commission of Political Participation and Finance may conduct financial research, analysisof accounting, and financial audits to ensure compliance financial regulations (ElectionResolution No. 100304-0043, Article 260).The state requires political organizations, voter groups, indigenous communities andorganizations, and candidates to maintain a system of accounting that records transactions, andpreparation of economic and financial statements that conform to accepted accounting principles(Election Resolution No. 100304-0043, Article 265).The state requires political organizations, voter groups, indigenous communities andorganizations, and candidates to use up to two designated bank accounts, and these accounts
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 13 of 70should be consistent with the accounting books and information transmitted through automatedaccountability (Election Resolution No. 100304-0043, Article 269).The state requires political organizations, voter groups, indigenous communities andorganizations, and candidates to perform monthly updates to the automated system ofaccountability accounts within the first 5 days to maturity of each month (Election ResolutionNo. 100304-0043 Article 272).Within 60 days following an election, the state requires political organizations, voter groups,indigenous communities and organizations, and candidates to submit their final campaignfunding reports through the automated system of accountability accounts (Election ResolutionNo. 100304-0043, Article 273).The Commission on Political Participation and Financing will conduct random audits oncampaign funds of parties, organizations, or individuals (Election Resolution No. 100304-0043,Article 276).The National Electoral Council may not disclose financial figures on candidates, parties etc.during the campaign, but releases them after the campaign period (Vergara, 2012).The FDA researchers found no legislation that requires the National Electoral Council to releasepublicly financial information on candidates and parties.Audit FindingCandidate and party finances are only transparent to the state.Contributions to Candidates and PartiesAudit Questions1) Are contributions restricted to citizens?2) Are contributions disallowed by foreigners, public institutions, and charities?3) Are anonymous contributions set at a reasonable level?Legislative FindingsThe state disallows anonymous contributions (General Election Regulation, Article 257(1)).The state disallows contributions from public agencies, public foundations receiving funds fromgovernments or foreign agencies, and foreign companies headquartered abroad (ElectionResolution No. 100304-0043, Article 257).The state disallows contributions from foreign donors and companies contracted to providepublic services (Vergara, 2012).
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 14 of 70The state disallows election propaganda to be funded from abroad (Election Law, Article75(14)).The FDA researchers found no laws that restrict contributions to individuals.Audit FindingsVenezuelan citizens and corporations can both make electoral contributions. The state disallowsforeigners, and Venezuelan public institutions and charities from making electoral contributions.The state disallows anonymous contributions, and thereby eliminates the possibility of illegalanonymous contributions.Caps on Contributions to Candidates and PartiesAudit Questions1) Are the caps on candidates and parties contributions reflective of per capita disposableincome level?2) Are the caps on candidates own contributions reflective of per capita disposable incomelevel?ResearchAs of October 2011, there are 18,022,710 Venezuelans on the voters list (GDP per capita(current US$), 2012a). The 2011 estimated GDP per capita income for Venezuela is $12,400(USD) (GDP per capita (current US$), 2012a). The FDA Researchers were unable to find percapita disposable income data on Venezuela.Legislative ResearchThe FDA researchers found indirect restrictions on contributions through a requirement for―complete and balanced‖ election propaganda and coverage. These restrictions help offset nolegislated cap on contributions and no limit on expenditures.The National Electoral Council may finance in part or in full the diffusion of electoralpropaganda in the media of radio, television, or print in accordance with regulations includingensuring complete and balanced coverage (Election Law, Article 78).Public and private media election coverage will be complete and balanced without distorting thereality of the campaign. The media must observe ―rigorous‖ balance in terms of space and timedevoted to information on candidates and parties (Election Law, Article 81).The state disallows public and private media from making their own election propaganda aimedat encouraging or persuading the electorate to vote for a particular candidate or party or againstparticular candidate or party (Election Law, Article 79).
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 15 of 70Each candidate is limited to a half page print ad in national newspapers per day, and broadcastads are limited to 3 minutes per day (National Electoral Council Investigates Campaigns, 2012).Radio ads are limited to 4 minutes per day (Walser, 2012).The FDA researchers found no direct restrictions on contribution amounts.The FDA researchers found no direct restrictions on personal contributions by candidates.Audit FindingsThe National Electoral Council has the authority to finance in part or in full the diffusion ofelectoral propaganda in the media of radio, television, or print in accordance with regulationsthat require complete and balanced election coverage. In addition, each candidate is limited to ahalf page print ad in national newspapers per day, broadcast ads are limited to 3 minutes per day,and radio ads are limited to 4 minutes per day. Therefore, FDA auditors concluded that there arein effect indirect caps on contributions to candidates and parties and allowed the scores to reflectthis. The indirect cap does not include billboards, flyers, posters, and campaign events. The FDAauditors determined that a cap of 3 minutes per day for the 97-day campaign period is notreflective of per capita gross income of $12,400. For example, if a 3-minute ad costs $250,000,then that works out to $24,250,000 (USD) in advertisement expense over the campaign period,and that does not include ads in other media sectors. The FDA auditors determine that theelectoral subsidies through National Electoral Council do not directly create a level playing field,because they do not include billboards, flyers, posters, and campaign events, and it is unknownto what extent the National Electoral Council disseminates election propaganda for the distinctpurpose of promoting equality among parties.Campaign Expenditure LimitsAudit Questions1) If there are campaign expenditure limits on candidates and parties, are they set high enoughand still reasonably attainable by all registered candidates and parties?2) If there are public subsidies or other financial instruments, do they create an equal level ofcampaign finances for candidates and parties?Legislative ResearchThere are no public subsidies for candidates and political parties (Vergara, 2012).The FDA researchers found indirect restrictions on expenditure limits through a requirement for―complete and balanced‖ election propaganda and coverage. These restrictions help offset nolegislated cap on contributions and no limit on expenditures.The National Electoral Council may finance in part or in full the diffusion of electoralpropaganda in the media of radio, television, or print in accordance with regulations includingensuring complete and balanced coverage (Election Law, Article 78).
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 16 of 70Each candidate is limited to a half page print ad in national newspapers per day, and broadcastads are limited to 3 minutes per day (National Electoral Council Investigates Campaigns, 2012).Radio ads are limited to 4 minutes per day (Walser, 2012).Public and private media election coverage will be complete and balanced without distorting thereality of the campaign. The media must observe ―rigorous‖ balance in terms of space and timedevoted to information on candidates and parties (Election Law, Article 81).The state disallows public and private media from making their own election propaganda aimedat encouraging or persuading the electorate to vote for a particular candidate or party or against aparticular candidate or party (Election Law, Article 79).Audit FindingsThe National Electoral Council has the authority to finance in part or in full the diffusion ofelectoral propaganda in the media of radio, television, or print in accordance with regulationsthat require complete and balanced election coverage. In addition, each candidate is limited to ahalf page print ad in national newspapers per day, broadcast ads are limited to 3 minutes per day,and radio ads are limited to 4 minutes per day. Therefore, FDA auditors concluded that there arein effect indirect campaign expenditure limits on candidates and parties and allowed the scores toreflect this. The indirect expenditure limits does not include billboards, flyers, posters, andcampaign events. The FDA auditors determined that a cap of 3 minutes per day for the 97-daycampaign period is not reflective of per capita disposable income of $12,400. For example, if a3-minute ad costs $250,000, then that works out to $24,250,000 (USD) in advertisement expenseover the campaign period, and that does not include ads in other media sectors. The FDAauditors determine that the electoral subsidies through National Electoral Council do not directlycreate a level playing field, because they do not include billboards, flyers, posters, and campaignevents, and it is unknown to what extent the National Electoral Council disseminates electionpropaganda for the distinct purpose of promoting equality among parties.Caps on Third-party SpendingAudit Questions1) If there is third party spending, is it restricted to citizens only?2) If there are caps on third party spending, are they high enough and reasonably attainable byall adult citizens?3) Are there public subsidies, or other financial instruments, that create an equitable level ofthird party spending?Legislative ResearchThe state only allows political organizations, candidates, and indigenous groups and voter groupsrepresenting candidates disseminate election propaganda (General Election Law, Article 203).
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 17 of 70The state requires political organizations, voter groups, candidates, indigenous communities andorganizations to register through the System Automated information of income, expenses,receivables and accounts payable, within the first five (5) calendar days to the end of eachmonth, and be activated 5 days prior to the start of an election campaign (Election ResolutionNo. 100304-0043, Article 259).Audit FindingOnly candidates, parties, and indigenous organizations and voter groups representing candidatescan distribute election propaganda.Legislative ProcessAudit Question1) Is there an effective legislative process to enforce electoral finance laws?Legislative ResearchThe National Electoral Council has the authority to set guidelines for financing and political-electoral advertising and impose penalties when these guidelines are not followed (ElectionPower Act, Article 33 (20); Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, Article 293(3)).The National Electoral Council has the authority to determine and regulate all matters pertainingto the financing of national election campaigns (Election Power Act, Article 33 (23)).The National Electoral Council has the authority to ensure compliance with laws on financing ofelection campaigns of political organizations, constituency, civic groups, or citizens andindependent candidates (Election Power Act, Article 33 (24)).The Committee on Political Participation and Financing has the authority to control, regulate,and investigate funds for political purposes and electoral campaign financing (Election PowerAct, Article 64).The National Bureau of Financing has the authority to investigate election wrongdoing asdirected by the Committee on Political Participation and Financing (Election Power Act, Article69).The state has a system of sanctions for individuals and organizations found guilty of electoralmisconduct (Election Law, Article 227).Punitive measures include: 15 to 50 tax units or equivalent of one day of arrest per tax unit forelection officials who refuse to accept the vote of electors entitled to vote; 20 to 60 tax units toproportional arrest for impeding the election process or election propaganda or promote acandidate who has failed to meet registration requirements; 5000 to 7000 tax units for public orprivate media refusal to broadcast election propaganda, public or private media disseminating
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 18 of 70election propaganda within 48 hours prior to Election Day, or breach the fairness of mediacoverage; 500 to 700 tax units or proportional arrest for other violations of the Election Law asdetermined by a competent authority (Election Law, Articles 231-233).The National Electoral Council is comprised of five persons not related to political organizations,one from faculty of law or political science, one by the Citizen Power, and three nominated bycivil society. The members of the National Electoral Council are approved by a vote of two-thirds of the National Assembly and can be removed by the National Assembly after a ruling bythe Supreme Court (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, Article 295 to 296).Audit FindingsVenezuela has a comprehensive legislative process to enforce electoral finance laws that includesan automated system of accounting, random audits, and significant punitive measures forfinancial contraventions. The fact that the finances of candidates and parties are not disclosed tothe public or other candidates and parties places limits on this process; however, FDA auditorsdid not deduct marks in this particular section, but rather, in the electoral finance transparencysection. In addition, a lack of transparency does not necessarily result in ineffective enforcementof electoral finance laws. This is generally contingent on misconduct by the National ElectoralCouncil and sub-committees.Total score for electoral fairness relating to electoral finance: 52.5 percent out of 100 percent.
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 19 of 70AnalysisThe FDA auditors measured an unacceptable passing score of 52.5 percent for Venezuelanelectoral finance legislation. The FDA auditors identified an innovative process of indirect capsand limits on campaign contributions and expenditures, a strong legislative process for electoralfinance including automated filing system, random audits, and strong enforcement mechanisms.However, the absence of direct or indirect limit on billboards, flyers, posters, and campaignevents, the expense for mass-media advertisements that are not reflective of per capita disposableincome, and the fact that electoral finances are only transparent to the state might work tocounteract these positive aspects. The potential for financial corruption by pro-governmentparties, an unequal standard of financial audits, targeting of contributors to anti-governmentparties by the state, and an unequal financial playing field for candidates and parties are evident.FDA summaries of the key findings on the Venezuelan electoral finance laws and theirimpact1) Electoral finances are only transparent to the state through the National Electoral Council.ImpactThere is the potential for financial corruption by pro-government parties, because only thestate is privy to electoral finances.The state may apply unequal financial accounting and auditing measures, and thereby favorpro-government parties.The state may target contributors to anti-government parties for discrimination orpunishment.2) No direct caps or limits on campaign contributions and expenditures.ImpactThe state‘s indirect caps and limits on contributions and expenditures apply to mass mediaadvertisement; however, advertisement levels are not reflective of per capita disposableincome and might favor wealthier parties.Media limitations do not apply to billboards, flyers, posters, and campaign events, givingwealthier parties an unfair advantage in this realm of advertisement.
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 20 of 703) The state allows corporations to contribute to candidates, parties, voter groups, andindigenous organizations.ImpactElectoral law relating to campaign contributions favors corporations over the electorate.Corporate earnings are clearly higher than per capita disposable income, allowing for agreater impact on the election process and outcome than from the majority.Venezuela requires significant reforms of its electoral finance legislation. As it stands, thereis the potential for electoral finance corruption and an unfair playing field for parties andcandidates. To put Venezuela‘s score of 52.5 percent in context, in an identical audit theUnited States received a failing score of 48.25 percent, a score that takes into account zerocaps on contributions, no limit on expenditures by non-connected third parties (Super PACs),and no expenditure limits for privately funded presidential and congressional candidates(FDA Global Electoral Fairness Report on the United States, 2012).
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 21 of 70Chapter Two: Media Election CoverageThis chapter focuses on Venezuelan‘s media laws and the FDAs audit of them. Based on theconcepts of egalitarianism and political liberalism, the FDA audit team examined media lawsaccording to the standard of broad and balanced political coverage before, during and after acampaign period (see Appendix for further explanation). Table 2 below shows the FDA‘s auditvariables, their corresponding audit weights, and results:Table 2Media ElectionCoverage SectionVariables% SubsectionAudit WeightNumericalSubsection AuditWeightAuditResults% ResultsBroad and BalancedElection Coverage30% 3.0 3.0 100%Media Ownership 15% 1.5 1.5 100%Survey/Polls 5% 0.5 0.5 100%Freedom of Media 40% 4.0 4.0 100%Press Code ofPractice/Conduct10% 1.0 1.0 100%Variables from OtherSectionsn/a n/a n/a n/aTotal 100% 10 10 100%Broad and Balanced Political CoverageAudit Questions1) During the campaign period, is the media (private and public) required legally topublish/broadcast broad/balanced coverage of registered candidates and parties?2) Outside of the campaign period, is the media legally required to publish/broadcastpluralistic/balanced coverage of registered parties?3) If the media is legally required to publish/disseminate broad and balanced political coverage,are there reasonable monitoring and penalty mechanisms in place?Legislative ResearchThe Election Law does not prevent the President from conducting his professional duty during anelection, including speeches on all the country‘s TV channels and radio stations (Vergara, 2012).The state requires equal media access to all registered candidates and parties (Election Law,Principles and Rights, Article 72(10)).The state allows for freedom of political thought and expression (Election Law, Principles andRights, Article 72(2)).
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 22 of 70The state does not allow election propaganda outside of the election period. Venezuela lawdefines election propaganda as information that encourages or persuades the electorate to votefor a particular candidate or party, or against a particular candidate or party (Election Law,Article 75(1)).The state requires the promoter of election propaganda to be disclosed (Election Law, Article 75(5)).Broadcast media must not refuse to broadcast election propaganda unless directed by theNational Electoral Council (Election Law, Article 80).Public and private media election coverage will be complete and balanced without distorting thereality of the campaign. The media must observe ―rigorous‖ balance in terms of space and timedevoted to information on candidates and parties (Election Law, Article 81).The National Electoral Council may finance in part or in full the diffusion of electoralpropaganda in the media of radio, television, or print in accordance with regulations includingensuring complete and balanced coverage (Election Law, Article 78).Each candidate is limited to a half page print ad in national newspapers per day, and broadcastads are limited to 3 minutes per day (National Electoral Council Investigates Campaigns, 2012).Radio ads are limited to 4 minutes per day (Walser, 2012).The state disallows public and private media from making their own election propaganda aimedat encouraging or persuading the electorate to vote for a particular candidate or party or against aparticular candidate or party (Election Law, Article 79).Publications, radio stations, television stations and other official media may not be used by anypolitical party for their propaganda (Election Law, Article 35).The state does not view candidates and leaders of political organizations, and any political groupor organization participation on talk shows, news radio or television or in social media printed,digital, or other mass media as electioneering communication (During the Election CampaignPropaganda, 2012).Audit FindingsVenezuela has comprehensive legislation on broad and balanced election coverage during thecampaign period. Outside of the campaign period, the state does not allow candidates, parties,and third-parties from disseminating election propaganda. In addition, the state disallows publicand private media from disseminating their own election propaganda. Further, the NationalElectoral Council monitors election coverage, and has strong enforcement mechanisms in placeto enforce the laws on election propaganda.
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 23 of 70Media Ownership Concentration LawsAudit Questions1) If there are media concentration laws, are they effective in causing a plurality of politicaldiscourse?2) If there is no legal requirement of media plurality, impartiality, and balanced content ormedia ownership concentration laws, are there any other laws that are effective in causing aplurality of political discourse before and during an election period?Legislative ResearchThe FDA researchers found effective and comprehensive antitrust legislation relating to mediaownership concentration. The state also requires equal candidate and party access to media,complete and balanced campaign coverage, and impartial media election content. In addition, theNational Electoral Council has the power and authority to enforce these laws, including thefinancial capacity to disseminate election propaganda.Venezuelan antitrust laws do not allow economic concentrations that have anticompetitiveeffects and/or create a dominant position. Economic concentration is the result of mergers oracquisitions (Venezuela Antitrust Legislation, 2012).Venezuela‘s new 2012 antitrust laws prohibit, prevent, correct, eliminate, and punishmonopolistic and oligopolistic behaviors and practices, and in general those practices that hinderparticipation by all produces, suppliers etc., (Venezuelan antitrust bill establishes more ways toexpropriate, 2012).Audit FindingVenezuela has effective measures in place to prevent media ownership concentration through itsantitrust legislation.Surveys/PollsAudit Question1) Are there reasonable public disclosure requirements on surveys and polls in terms of theirmethodology, data, and funder?Legislative ResearchThe state prohibits the disclosure of results of polls or surveys, which aim to present electoralpreferences or voting intentions, seven days prior to Election Day (Election Law, Article 82).Any publication of a political nature must have a corresponding imprint (Election Law, Article34).
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 24 of 70Opinion polls and surveys disseminated in the media must include the names of the personsregistered to perform the polls or surveys, and the technical specifications and methodology ofthe polls or surveys (During the Election Campaign Propaganda, Article 219).Audit FindingVenezuela has comprehensive disclosure requirements on opinion polls and surveys, whichinclude information on date, methodology, and pollster and/or surveyor.Freedom of the MediaAudit Question1) Does constitutional or legislative law establish freedom of the media (including journalists)?Legislative ResearchThe state allows for freedom of political thought and expression (Election Law, Principles andRights, Article 72(2)).The state allows communication and information on elections to be free, diverse, plural,accurate, and timely (Election Law, Principles and Rights, Article 72(3)).The state supports respect for different ideas, and promotion of tolerance, transparency, andpeaceful coexistence (Election Law, Principles and Rights, Article 72(8)).The state disallows public and private media from making their own election propaganda aimedat encouraging or persuading the electorate to vote a particular candidate or party or againstparticular candidate or party (Election Law, Article 79).The state requires for equal of media access to all registered candidates and parties (ElectionLaw, Principles and Rights, Article 72(10)).Public and private media election coverage will be complete and balanced without distorting thereality of the campaign. The media must observe ―rigorous‖ balance in terms of space and timedevoted to information on candidates and parties (Election Law, Article 81).The state does not view candidates and leaders of political organizations, and any political groupor organization participation on talk shows, news radio or television or in social media printed,digital, or other mass media as electioneering communication (During the Election CampaignPropaganda, 2012).Any political party for its propaganda may not use publications, radio stations, television stationsand other official media (Election Law, Article 35).
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 25 of 70Broadcast media must not refuse to broadcast election propaganda unless directed by theNational Electoral Council (Election Law, Article 80).The National Electoral Council will monitor election propaganda to ensure compliance withElection Law (Election Law, Article 89).The National Electoral Council has the authority to order media to withdraw election propagandaif it violates Election Law. Offenders or alleged offenders may object orally or in writing within5 days of notification. In case of dispute, within 5 days a hearing will open and a decision madewithin five working days of the hearing (Election Law, Article 90).In cases of access to information, the confidentiality of journalists and other professionals will beretained as determined by law (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, Article 28).Every Venezuelan has to right to freedom of thought and expression by any means ofcommunication and diffusion. Non-anonymity, war propaganda, discriminatory messages orthose promoting religious intolerance will not be tolerated (Bolivarian Republic of VenezuelaConstitution, Article 57).Communication is free and plural and comes with rights and responsibilities. Every citizen hasthe right to timely, accurate, and impartial information (Bolivarian Republic of VenezuelaConstitution, Article 58).The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is irrevocably free and independent, basing its values onfreedom, equality, justice, and international peace (Bolivarian Republic of VenezuelaConstitution, Fundamental Principles, Article 1).Freedom is an inherent right of Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution,Fundamental Principles, Article 1).Venezuela holds political pluralism, liberty, justice, social responsibility, and democracy as someits superior values (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, Fundamental Principles,Article 2).Under the Law for Social Responsibility in Radio, Television and Electronic Media (2010),electronic media including internet must not transit content that will ―foment anxiety in thepublic or disturb public order‖, ―incite or promote disobedience of the current legal order‖,―refuse to recognize the legitimately constituted authority‖ or ―incite or promote hatred orintolerance.‖ The government broadcasting authority, CONATEL, has the authority to orderinternet service providers to restrict access to those that violate the Social Responsibility law(Venezuela: Legislative Assault on Free Speech, Civil Society, 2012). The FDA researchers notethat there are no restrictions on political content and election campaign content.Under the Law for Social Responsibility in Radio, Television and Electronic Media (2010),broadcast media that transmit content which violates the prohibitions against ‗fomentinganxiety‖ and ―promot[ing] disobedience‖ face fines of 10 percent of their gross income andsuspension for up to 72 hours (Venezuela: Legislative Assault on Free Speech, Civil Society,
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 26 of 702012). The FDA researchers note that there are no restrictions on political content and electioncampaign content.Under the Law for Social Responsibility in Radio, Television and Electronic Media (2010),broadcast media licenses may be revoked for transmitting content which ―advocate, incite orconstitute propaganda for war‖ or ―induce homicide‖ (Venezuela: Legislative Assault on FreeSpeech, Civil Society, 2012). The FDA researchers note that there are no restrictions on politicalcontent and election campaign content.Under the Organic Law of Telecommunications (updated December 20, 2010), the state maysuspend or revoke the broadcasting concessions to private outlets if the state thinks it is―convenient for the interests of the nation or if public order and security demands it.‖ In addition,the assets of privately owned stations or channels whose operating license has expired orterminated by the broadcasting authority will ―revert‖ to the state to ensure continuity of service(Venezuela: Legislative Assault on Free Speech, Civil Society, 2012). The FDA researchers notethat these regulations may affect electoral discourse by limiting the diversity of media voices.However, the revoked licenses are largely based on, for example, inciting hatred and violenceand not on typical political discourse.Under the Law for the Defense of Political Sovereignty and National Self-Determination, thestate disallows Venezuelan non-governmental organizations from receiving international support(Venezuela: Legislative Assault on Free Speech, Civil Society, 2012). The FDA researchers notethat this regulation does not prevent Venezuelan non-governmental organizations from having avoice in election discourse.Under the Election Law, the state forbids any citizen from insulting public officials (Walser,2012). Article 72 states that citizens are required to respect the honor, privacy, intimacy, self-image, confidence and reputations of individuals. Article 75 states that election propaganda mustrespect the honor, privacy, intimacy, self-image, confidence and reputations of individuals anddirect obscenities and derogatory statements against the agencies and entities of public power,institutions and public officials or public servants.Audit FindingsIn its constitution, Venezuela identifies freedom of expression as a fundamental principle of thecountry. Venezuela‘s Law on Social Responsibility places limits on freedom that encourageviolence and hatred, for example. However, there are no restrictions on the freedom of themedia, within the bounds of providing complete and balanced election coverage and notdisseminating its own election propaganda. The FDA auditors did not find unreasonable limitson freedom of the media.
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 27 of 70Press Code of Practice/ConductAudit Questions1) Does a Code of Practice/Conduct that supports impartial, balanced electoral coverage guidethe press?2) If a Code of Practice/Conduct that supports impartial, balanced electoral coverage guides thepress, is the Code of Practice/Conduct enforceable?Legislative ResearchThe FDA researchers found no private code of conduct to guide broad and balanced presscoverage during election periods.The FDA researchers found no legislated code of conduct to guide press coverage during theelection period. However, Venezuela has other legislation that guides the election coverage ofthe press including:Public and private media election coverage will be complete and balanced without distorting thereality of the campaign. The media must observe ―rigorous‖ balance in terms of space and timedevoted to information on candidates and parties (Election Law, Article 81).Each candidate is limited to a half page print ad in national newspapers per day, and broadcastads are limited to 3 minutes per day (National Electoral Council Investigates Campaigns, 2012).Radio ads are limited to 4 minutes per day (Walser, 2012).The state disallows public and private media from making their own election propaganda aimedat encouraging or persuading the electorate to vote for a particular candidate or party or against aparticular candidate or party (Election Law, Article 79).Audit FindingsVenezuela has a comprehensive code of conduct for the press‘s election coverage, whichincludes complete and balanced coverage, no dissemination of its own election propaganda, andlimits on daily print ads by candidates.Total score for electoral fairness relating to media content: 100 percent out of 100 percent.
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 28 of 70AnalysisThe FDA auditors found no deficiency in Venezuela‘s media legislation, and therefore itreceived 100 percent, the highest attainable score, in this audit. Venezuela balances mediafreedom with complete and balanced election coverage, and thereby puts the Venezuelanelectorate first. To allow any public or private media company free reign during elections in thename of press freedom is to act contrary to interests of the people. Democratic elections arefundamentally about the electorate, and the media‘s role during elections is to help inform theelectorate objectively so that they can make the most informed decision on Election Day.Venezuela recognizes and enacts this fundamental democratic principle.In contrast, the American media legislation does not mediate electoral discourse. It allowsprivate media to disseminate any election information they choose, ergo such companiesdetermine electoral dialogue and how broad and balanced it is. This approach exposes theAmerican public to biased, subjective, and mis-information, especially considering that theindividual ideology and political agenda of owners and profit motivate the actions and positionof many American companies. Consequently, in the 2012 FDA United States audit, theAmerican media legislation received a failing score of 42.4 percent as compared to Venezuela‘s100 percent score. Further, the FDA media study on the 2012 U.S. Presidential Electionconfirmed the potential for narrow and imbalanced election coverage in the United States (FDAMedia Study of the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election, 2012).Venezuela does not allow public or private media outlets to create election propaganda, andrequires the media to provide ―complete and balanced‖ coverage to the electorate. Media outletscannot refuse to disseminate election propaganda from any candidate or party unless it violatesVenezuelan law. There are no restrictions on media sharing its viewpoint on candidates andparties, as the long as it does not take the form of election propaganda. The Venezuelan statereserves election propaganda for candidates, parties, voter groups, and indigenous communitiesand organizations. Finally, the state does not allow election propaganda outside of the 97-dayelection period. The FDA likens these media regulations to a national media code of conductduring elections. In the FDA‘s opinion, the Venezuelan approach to media is fair and just. It isnot the media‘s role or place in democracy to create election propaganda or employ its facilitiesfor election propaganda.As mentioned in the research on the Venezuela‘s media laws, the Law on Social Responsibilityhas no discernible impact on political expression and campaign coverage. This law pertains tohate speech, speech that promotes and encourages violence, and other forms of malevolentbehavior. In addition, Article 72 from the Election Act prohibits slanderous attacks on candidatesand public officials, and at the same time, allows constructive criticism of candidates and publicofficials. Therefore, in the FDA‘s opinion, Article 72 has little to no impact on political freedomand election discourse.Further, the Law of Telecommunications allows the state to suspend and revoke broadcastingconcessions to private outlets if ―public order and security demands it.‖ Again, this law pertainsto extreme situations where the state may need to assert control. The FDA thinks this law haslittle or no relevant impact on political discourse or election coverage. In a historical context,
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 29 of 70there is evidence that the Venezuelan private media aided the attempted coup in 2002. It wouldfollow that the state would adopt measures to prevent a similar occurrence.
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 30 of 70Chapter Three: Candidates and PartiesThis chapter focuses on Venezuelan laws pertaining to candidates and parties. The FDA auditteam examines election laws according to their equity for registered candidates and parties (seethe Appendix for further explanation). Table 3 below shows the FDA‘s audit variables, theircorresponding audit weights, and results:Table 3Candidates & PartiesSection Variables% SubsectionAudit WeightNumericalSubsection AuditWeightAudit Results % ResultsCampaign Period 2% 0.2 0.2 100%Methodology for ElectionWinners2% 0.2 0.03 15%Electoral Boundaries 2% 0.2 0.2 100%Process of Government 10% 1.0 1.0 100%Registration of Candidates 2% 0.2 0.2 100%Registration of Parties 2% 0.2 0.2 100%Freedom of Expressionand Assembly20% 2.0 2.0 100%Electoral Complaints 3% 0.3 0.3 100%Presentation of Ballots 1% 0.1 0.1 100%Scrutineers 1% 0.1 0.1 100%Candidate and PartyCampaign Advertisement6% 0.6 0.5 83.33%Variables from OtherSections49% 4.9 3.19 65.1%Total 100% 10 7.79 77.9%Campaign PeriodAudit Question1) Does the length of the campaign period reasonably and fairly allow all registered candidatesand parties enough time to share their backgrounds and policies with the voting public?Legislative ResearchThe National Election Council determines for each election the electoral campaign period(Election Law, Article 71).The 2012 Venezuelan Presidential Election period is from July 1stto October 5th(Eleccionespresidenciales de Venezuela de 2012, 2012).Audit Findings
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 31 of 70The National Electoral Council determines the campaign period and FDA researchers did notfind an explicit length for the campaign period. However, in the 2012 Presidential Election, theNational Electoral Council has set the campaign period at 97 days. The FDA auditors determinethat 97 days is a reasonable length of time for candidates and parties to share backgrounds,platforms, and policies with the electorate.Methodology for Determining Winners of DistrictsAudit Questions1) Is the determination of election winners based on first-past-the-post?2) Is the determination of election winners based on proportional representation closed list?3) Is the determination of election winners based on proportional representation open list?Legislative ResearchThe Venezuelan Constitution guarantees the principles of personalization of suffrage andproportional representation (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, Article 63).30 percent of the seats in the National Assembly are determined by proportional representation,and the rest are determined by first-past-the-post (Wilpert, 2010).Audit FindingsAlthough the Venezuelan constitution guarantees proportional representation, there are noexplicit directives for this process. Currently, proportional representation closed lists decide 30percent of the seats in the National Assembly, and FDA auditors determined a score of 0.3 (30percent of 0.1) accordingly. First-past-the-post determines 70 percent of the seats in the NationalAssembly, resulting in a 0.0 score because there is no value given to first-past-the-post (due to itslack of proportionality).Electoral BoundariesAudit Question1) Is the process for determining electoral boundaries reasonable and fair for all registeredcandidates and parties?Legislative ResearchVenezuela electoral district boundaries are based on a minimum of three legislators per state.The total number of legislators varies in proportion to the country‘s population. The number oflegislators elected is determined by dividing the total number of residents in any given district by1.1 percent of the national population (Suggett, 2010).
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 32 of 7030 percent of the seats in the National Assembly are determined by proportional representation,and the rest are determined by first-past-the-post (Wilpert, 2010).The National Electoral Council redraws voting district boundaries (Election Power Act, Article33(11); Venezuelan election law approved, 2009). According to the NCE the districts areredrawn using standard legal method designed not to benefit any party. Rural districts have morevoter weight than urban districts (Suggett, 2010). The FDA researchers deem that giving morevoter weight to rural districts is reasonable and fair because urban populations are significantlymore concentrated. Federal rural districts in Canada may have more weight per voter ascompared to urban areas (Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act, 2012). As of 2012, the Albertafederal electoral districts are within 5 percent of electoral population quota, which mean someelectoral districts could have 10 percent more population than others (Proposed ElectoralDivision Areas, Boundaries, and Names for Alberta, 2010).Audit FindingsThe National Electoral Council draws Venezuela electoral boundaries according to a standardlegal method designed to benefit no particular party. The FDA researchers found no evidence tocontradict this decision or process. Although rural districts garner more voter weight than urbandistricts, this imbalance is relatively acceptable due to discrepancy in population density betweenthe two regions.Process of GovernmentAudit Question1) Within the structure of government do political representatives, individually and asgovernment bodies, have reasonable say in the formation of government policy, legislationetc.?Legislative ResearchThe Venezuelan President is in power for six years, and may be re-elected with no term limit(Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, First Amendment, Article 230).Deputies to the National Assembly are elected for five years and may be reappointed or re-elected, depending on position, with no term limit (Bolivarian Republic of VenezuelaConstitution, First Amendment, Article 192).The Venezuelan government has four main independent branches of government: NationalExecutive, National Assembly, Judiciary, and Citizen Power (represented by an ombudsmenoffice). The National Executive lead by the President and Vice-President is in charge of runningthe country; the National Assembly is the authority of national legislation; the judiciary led bythe Supreme Court is authority on the Constitution and enforcing law, and the Ombudsman
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 33 of 70Office is in charge of protecting the people‘s interests and rights (Bolivarian Republic ofVenezuela Constitution, Articles 72-74, 225-283, 347-350).Venezuelan people have the power to submit referendum bills to the National Assembly if thepeople in favor of the bill represent at least twenty-five percent of the electors registered.Treaties, conventions or agreements that could compromise national sovereignty or transferpower to supranational bodies, may be submitted to a referendum on the initiative of thePresident of the Republic in Council of Ministers, by the vote of two-thirds or the members ofthe Assembly, or fifteen percent of the voters registered and entered in the civil and voterregistration (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, Article 73).Venezuelan people have to power to submit referendum bills to wholly or partially repealexisting laws if the people in favor of the referendum have support from at least 10 percent of theregistered electors (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, Article 74).Venezuelan people have to power to submit referendum bills to abrogate laws issued by thePresident of the Republic under Article 236 if those in favor of the referendum have the supportof at least 5 percent of the registered electors. The validity of referendum requires at least 40percent support from registered electors (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, Article74).Budget laws including taxation are not subject to referendum nor are laws for protecting,guaranteeing, and developing human rights (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution,Article 74).Audit FindingsVenezuela has four main branches of government: National Executive, National Assembly,Judiciary, and Ombudsman Office. These branches create checks and balances that work toprotect the interests of Venezuelans as a whole. In addition, Venezuela allows citizenreferendums. The President has no term limits; however, in order to continue his/her period inoffice s/he must win the election every six years.Registration of CandidatesAudit Question1) Are the registration requirements of federal candidates reasonable and based on reasonablepopular support rather than finances?Legislative ResearchOnly Venezuelans by birth may hold the position of President and Vice-President of Venezuela,and President and Vice-President of the National Assembly (Bolivarian Republic of VenezuelaConstitution, Article 41).
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 34 of 70Only Venezuelans by birth or naturalization (15 years of uninterrupted residence in Venezuela)may hold the position of Deputies of the National Assembly (Bolivarian Republic of VenezuelaConstitution, Article 41).Citizens can run as candidates of parties or as independents (Bolivarian Republic of VenezuelaConstitution, Article 67).Presidential candidates must be more than 30 years of age, layperson, registered with ElectoralRegistry, and not be subject to a disqualification (Election Resolution No. 100304-0043, Article112).Deputy candidates for the National Assembly must be at least 21 years of age at date of theelection, resided for at least four years in a corresponding state, and be registered in the ElectoralRegistry (Election Resolution No. 100304-0043, Article 113).Independent candidates must have at least five percent support of the electorate in thecorresponding territorial scope of position (Election Resolution No. 100304-0043, Article 130).Indigenous candidates must apply through their indigenous communities or organizations. Inaddition, the candidates must meet the following requirements (Election Resolution No. 100304-0043, Articles 142-145)1) Have exercised by traditional authority in their respective Community.2) Having established record in the social struggle for the recognition of their cultural identity.3) Have taken action on behalf of the people and indigenous communities or organization.4) Belonging to an indigenous organization legally constituted a minimum of three (3) years ofoperation.Audit FindingsVenezuela has reasonable registration requirements for presidential and deputy candidates, inwhich presidential candidates must be at 30 years old, and deputy candidates must be at least 21years old. In addition, the President must be Venezuelan by birth, while Deputies must beVenezuelan by birth or naturalization of 15 years. There are no financial requirements oncandidate registration, and independent candidates must have at least 0.5 percent electoralsupport in their corresponding election area. Indigenous candidates for three regions must havethe support of their communities prior to becoming a candidate.
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 35 of 70Registration of PartiesAudit Question1) Are the registration requirements of parties reasonable and based on reasonable popularsupport rather than finances?Legislative ResearchAll Venezuelans have the right to associate for political purposes (Bolivarian Republic ofVenezuela Constitution, Article 67).Political parties are required to adopt a name different from other political parties (Law onPolitical Parties, Public Meetings and Demonstrations, Article 7).Regional and national parties must have popular support of not less than 0.5 percent of thepopulation enrolled in the electoral registry of the respective territorial scope of party (Law onPolitical Parties, Public Meetings and Demonstrations, Articles 10 and 26).Parties must submit three copies of the party‘s statement, charter, political agenda, and statues,and description and drawing of symbols and emblems of party, and list of party leaders and theirroles to the Supreme Electoral Council (Law on Political Parties, Public Meetings andDemonstrations, Article 10).Political parties in their charters are forbidden from being subordinate to the directives fromforeign entities and associations if the subordination threatens the sovereignty or independenceof the nation or bring about change by violence to the national institutions legitimatelyconstituted (Law on Political Parties, Public Meetings and Demonstrations, Article 6).Citizen groups who had candidates in the last elections and obtained at least 3 percent of the voteare not subject to fulfilling registration requirements (Law on Political Parties, Public Meetingsand Demonstrations, Article 23).Anyone can object to or appeal decisions regarding party registration (Law on Political Parties,Public Meetings and Demonstrations, Articles 13-15).Renewal of national party registration requires proof of 0.5 percent popular support, or at least 1percent of votes cast in previous election (Law on Political Parties, Public Meetings andDemonstrations, Article 26).Audit FindingsTo be registered, political parties need at least 0.5 percent popular support. There are no financialrequirements for registration. The FDA auditors deem these registration requirements reasonableand consider a barrier of entry necessary due to the privileges of entry such as media access andexposure.
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 36 of 70Electoral ComplaintsAudit Questions1) Do candidates and parties have mechanisms in which to file complaints for electoralwrongdoing/fraud?2) Are there reasonable mechanisms to enforce candidate and party electoral complaints?Legislative ResearchThe National Electoral Council has the authority to hear and resolve complaints under theElection Power Act (Election Power Act, Article 33 (31)).Any electorate may make a claim about his or her electoral registration, and complaint will gothrough a legal process to determine its validity (Election Resolution No. 100304-0043, Articles28-29; Election Law, Article 21).Any electorate may make claims of electoral wrongdoing. There is specific process in place forelectoral complaints, including a detailed written statement of complaint/allegation,investigation, and opportunity for defense against complaint (Election Resolution No. 100304-0043, Articles 281-288).The state has specific procedures for public complaints regarding election propaganda. Thecomplaints process involves complaint filing, investigation, appeal process, resolution includingremoval of propaganda and punitive measures against violator (Election Power Act, 20-33).The National Electoral Council has the authority to order media to withdraw election propagandaif it violates Election Law. Offenders or alleged offenders may object orally or in writing within5 days of notification. In case of dispute, within 5 days a hearing will open and a decision madewithin five working days of the hearing (Election Law, Article 90).Audit FindingsVenezuela has a comprehensive electoral complaints process that is open to all citizens. Itinvolves an appeal process and enforcement mechanisms, including immediate removal of illegalelection propaganda.
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 37 of 70Presentation of BallotsAudit Question1) Are electoral lists presented on ballots in a fair, equitable way for all registered candidatesand parties?Legislative ResearchSince the Venezuelan electoral system is almost 100 percent automated, computer screensdisplay the ballots. When a citizen votes, they get a print out of their vote to confirm that theyvoted the way they intended (Electoral technology in Venezuela. 2012, Election Law, Articles121 and 131).The NCE reveals the ballots designed for the upcoming presidential elections with theVenezuelan electorate on August 16, 2012, prior to Election Day. The purpose of sharing thesample ballots is for informational purposes. An image of the candidates, their name, and thename of their parties is on the ballot (Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, 2012).The FDA researches viewed images of the sample ballots.Audit FindingsThe National Electoral Council designs the ballots. FDA researchers did not find legislation ontheir design but viewed a sample design for the 2012 Presidential Election. It had an image ofpresidential candidates, their name, and the name of their party. In addition, the NationalElectoral Council shares its ballot designs with the electorate almost two months prior toElection Day, and allows the electorate to view the ballots prior to Election Day.Poll Watcher and ChallengerAudit Question1) Are candidates and parties allowed poll watchers and challengers at polling stations?Legislative ResearchVenezuelan automated ballot system subject to observation by political representatives (Letter tothe Foundation for Democratic Advancement about the Secrecy of Venezuelan Voting Ballots,2012).Political representatives are permitted to ink their fingers and test different soluble substances toverify reliability of ink used in elections ((Letter to the Foundation for Democratic Advancementabout the Secrecy of Venezuelan Voting Ballots, 2012).
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 38 of 70At polling stations, the Electoral Board allows the local presence of electors and electoralwitnesses with no limitation other than the local physical capacity and security of the election(Election Law, Article 140).The tally sheet of election results shall be legible and be signed by the electors and witnessespresent (Election Law, Articles 142-143).Political organizations, groups of electors, candidates or the candidates on their own initiativeand indigenous communities and organizations have the right to have witnesses to the electoralbodies‘ subordinates (Election Law, Article 157).Witnesses will not be inhibited in performing their duties by members of the electoral bodies(Election Law, Article 158).The automated electoral system has an electoral audit and verification audit by citizens. Electoralaudit ensures the system is fully functional and reliable. Electors receive voting receipts toconfirm that they voted as they intended (Election Law, Articles 159-162).The Electoral Board uses the same steps as the state in determining citizenship (Election Law,Article 163).Audit FindingsVenezuela has comprehensive legislation on observation by political representatives duringmany stages of the electoral process. In addition, the state permits political representatives toverify key aspects of the electoral process such as finger ink used on Election Day.Candidate and Party AdvertisementAudit Questions1) During the campaign period, do candidates and parties have equal access to radio, television,and print media for political advertisement, and equal cost of political advertisement?2) During the campaign period, do candidates and parties political advertisements in mediainclude a public subsidy component to ensure an equality of political advertisement in themedia?3) Outside of the campaign period, do candidates and parties have equal to radio, television, andprint media for political advertisement, and equal cost of political advertisement?Legislative ResearchEach candidate is limited to a half page print ad in national newspapers per day, and broadcastads are limited to 3 minutes per day (Venezuelan Embassy Washington, 2012). Radio ads arelimited to 4 minutes per day (Walser, 2012).
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 39 of 70The state requires equal media access to all registered candidates and parties (Election Law,Principles and Rights, Article 72(10)).The FDA researchers could not find legislation that requires an equal cost for advertisements forall candidates and parties. The National Electoral Council‘s authority to finance thedissemination of election propaganda, and the state requirement that the media observe arigorous balance of candidate and party advertisement in terms of space and time partly offsetsthis lack of legislation.Broadcast media must not refuse to broadcast election propaganda unless directed by theNational Electoral Council (Election Law, Article 80).The state does not view candidates and leaders of political organizations, and any political groupor organization participation on talk shows, news radio or television or in social media printed,digital, or other mass media as electioneering communication (During the Election CampaignPropaganda, 2012).Public and private media election coverage will be complete and balanced without distorting thereality of the campaign. The media must observe ―rigorous‖ balance in terms of space and timedevoted to information on candidates and parties (Election Law, Article 81).The FDA researchers found no legislated public subsidy component in the Venezuelan electoralsystem, except indirectly through the NEC, which has the authority to finance the disseminationof election propaganda and ensure equality of political advertisement in the press, radio, andtelevision. The NEC‘s authority does not include billboard, poster, and flyer advertisements. Thepress, radio, and television are mass media outlets (Election Law, Article 78).The state does not allow election propaganda outside of the election period. Venezuela lawdefines election propaganda as information that encourages or persuades the electorate to votefor a particular candidate or party, or against a particular candidate or party (Election Law,Article 75(1)).The state disallows posters, drawings and other propaganda on public buildings and monuments(Election Law, Article 32).Any political party for their propaganda may not use publications, radio stations, televisionstations and other official media (Election Law, Article 35).Audit FindingsAlthough electoral law demands equal access to media for all candidates and parties, there is noprovision that the media charge the same advertisement costs to all candidates and parties.Therefore, the FDA auditors made a 50 percent deduction in its score. During the campaignperiod, the National Electoral Council disseminates election propaganda and works to ensurecomplete and balanced campaign coverage, which acts as an indirect subsidy for candidates andparties. The state does not allow election propaganda outside of the campaign period.
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 40 of 70Freedom of Speech and AssemblyAudit Question1) Does constitutional or legislative law establish freedom of speech and assembly?Legislative ResearchPolitical associations have the right to advertise during the election period by any means ofdissemination whether oral or written within the limits of the law such as no posters on publicbuildings and no use of patriotic symbols and portraits or pictures of the heroes of independence(Election Law, Articles 30 and 32).The state allows for freedom of political thought and expression (Election Law, Principles andRights, Article 72(2)).The state allows communication and information on elections to be free, diverse, plural,accurate, and timely (Election Law, Principles and Rights, Article 72(3)).The state supports respect for different ideas, and promotion of tolerance, transparency, andpeaceful coexistence (Election Law, Principles and Rights, Article 72(8)).The state disallows public and private media from making their own election propaganda aimedat encouraging or persuading the electorate to vote for a particular candidate or party or against aparticular candidate or party (Election Law, Article 79).The state requires equal media access to all registered candidates and parties (Election Law,Principles and Rights, Article 72(10)).Public and private media election coverage will be complete and balanced without distorting thereality of the campaign. The media must observe ―rigorous‖ balance in terms of space and timedevoted to information on candidates and parties (Election Law, Article 81).Any political party for its propaganda may not use publications, radio stations, television stationsand other official media (Election Law, Article 35).Broadcast media must not refuse to broadcast election propaganda unless directed by theNational Electoral Council (Election Law, Article 80).The National Electoral Council will monitor election propaganda to ensure compliance withElection Law (Election Law, Article 89).The National Electoral Council has the authority to order media to withdraw election propagandaif it violates Election Law. Offenders or alleged offenders may object orally or in writing within5 days of notification. In case of dispute, within 5 days a hearing will open and a decision madewithin five working days of the hearing (Election Law, Article 90).
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 41 of 70In cases of access to information, the law maintains the confidentiality of journalists and otherprofessionals (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, Article 28).Every Venezuelan has to right to freedom of thought and expression by any means ofcommunication and diffusion. The law does not tolerate non-anonymity, war propaganda,discriminatory messages or those promoting religious intolerance (Bolivarian Republic ofVenezuela Constitution, Article 57).Communication is free and plural and comes with rights and responsibilities. Every citizen hasthe right to timely, accurate, and impartial information (Bolivarian Republic of VenezuelaConstitution, Article 58).The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is irrevocably free and independent, basing its values onfreedom, equality, justice, and international peace (Bolivarian Republic of VenezuelaConstitution, Fundamental Principles, Article 1).Freedom is an inherent right of Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution,Fundamental Principles, Article 1).Venezuela holds political pluralism, liberty, justice, social responsibility, and democracy as someits superior values (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, Fundamental Principles,Article 2).The state permits meetings and demonstrations in public places. Organizers must give 24-hournotice for the meeting or demonstration. An alternative day and time may be established if thereis a simultaneous meeting or demonstration taking place. The state does not regulate privatemeetings (Law on Political Parties, Public Meetings and Demonstrations, Articles 36-46).Under Election Law, the state forbids any citizen from insulting public officials (Ray Walser,2012). Article 72 states that citizens are required to respect the honor, privacy, intimacy, self-image, confidence and reputations of individuals. Under Article 75, election propaganda shallnot disrespect respect the honor, privacy, intimacy, self-image, confidence and reputation ofindividuals or direct obscenities and derogatory statements against the agencies and entities ofpublic power, institutions and public officials or public servants.Audit FindingsThe Venezuelan Constitution and Election Law establish and guarantee freedom of speech andassembly. The FDA auditors did not identify unreasonable restrictions on freedom of expressionor assembly for candidates, parties, or the public. The Law of Social Responsibility does notapply to political expression and assembly. Article 72 of the Election Law applies, partly, toslanderous, disrespectful, and dishonorable personal attacks on candidates, and not politicalexpression.Total score for electoral fairness relating to candidates and parties: 77.9 percent out of 100percent.
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 42 of 70AnalysisVenezuela‘s legislation pertaining to candidates and parties received a score of 77.9 percent.Without considering variables from other sections, the FDA measured a score of 94.7 percent forthe candidates and parties section. Based on this score, Venezuela has an exceptionally fairplaying field for candidates and parties. The FDA did not identify any deficiencies in legislationdirectly related to candidates and parties. Although Article 62 of the Constitution mentionsproportional representation and this process determines only 30 percent of electoral seats, there isno specific legislative or constitutional requirement on how proportional representationdetermines electoral districts.The legislation on ―complete and balanced‖ election coverage in the media helps to ensure a fairplaying field for candidates, as do the caps on electoral propaganda in the mass media. Inaddition, the registration of candidates and parties through established popular supportencourages candidates and parties who represent the voice of the people to participate in theelection.The main deficiencies in the candidates and parties section stem from the finance section. Mostnotably, there are no caps or limits on campaign contributions and expenditures, and the NationalElectoral Council‘s ability to ensure complete and balanced coverage only partly offsets thisshortcoming. For example, billboards, flyers, posters, and campaign events are not included inthe NEC‘s directive, and therefore a party with higher contributions will have more opportunityto influence the electorate. In addition, there is no legislative requirement for equal cost ofadvertisement, and therefore the media could favor a particular party over others.
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 43 of 70Chapter Four: VotersThis chapter focuses on the Venezuelan electoral laws relating to voters. The FDA audit teamgauges these laws according to their equity for voters. This implies an equal value for each votecast, equitable opportunity for voters prior to and during the campaign period and reasonablemeans to take advantage of these opportunities. The FDA acknowledges that absolute equalopportunity is not likely attainable. For example, it is implausible that either government orsociety can ensure that every citizen have the same education, income, intelligence, leisure timeetc. However, the FDA is interested in the overall equity of Venezuelan legislation relating tovoters. Does the legislation promote equity within reasonable bounds? Are there areas of thelegislation that clearly favour certain voters? Table 4 below shows the FDA‘s audit variables,their corresponding audit weights, and results:Table 4Voters SectionVariables% SubsectionAudit WeightNumericalSubsection AuditWeightAuditResults% ResultsBlackout Period 2% 0.2 0.2 100%Value of a Vote 5% 0.5 0.5 100%Freedom of Speech andAssembly20% 2.0 2.0 100%Voter RegistrationRequirements2% 0.2 0.2 100%Voter ElectoralComplaints Process3% 0.3 0.3 100%Voter Protection 2% 0.2 0.2 100%Voter Assistance 2% 0.2 0.2 100%Citizens Living Abroad 2% 0.2 0.2 100%Inclusion of Minorities 2% 0.2 0.2 100%Variables from OtherSections60% 6.0 3.59 59.83%Total 100% 10 8.49 84.9%Blackout PeriodAudit Question1) Is the length of the campaign blackout period reasonable?Legislative ResearchThe state requires election propaganda to cease within 48 hours of Election Day (Election Law,Article 232(2)).
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 44 of 70The state prohibits disclose results of polls or surveys, which aim to present electoral preferencesor voting intentions, seven days prior to Election Day (Election Law, Article 82).Audit FindingsThe Venezuelan electoral process dictates a 48-hour blackout period for election propaganda,and 7-day blackout period on opinions polls and surveys. Using professional judgment andknowledge of other electoral systems, the FDA auditors determine that the Venezuelan blackoutperiods give the electorate sufficient time and space to formulate a clear decision of who to votefor.Value of a VoteAudit Question1) Is the electoral (numerical) value of votes the same for all eligible voters?Legislative ResearchElectors have the right to one vote per election (Election Law, Article 125).Audit FindingThe state allows Venezuelans one vote per person.Freedom of Speech and AssemblyAudit Question1) Does constitutional or legislative law establish freedom of speech and assembly?Legislative ResearchThe state allows for freedom of political thought and expression (Election Law, Principles andRights, Article 72(2)).The state allows communication and information on elections to be free, diverse, plural,accurate, and timely (Election Law, Principles and Rights, Article 72(3)).The state supports respect for different ideas, and promotion of tolerance, transparency, andpeaceful coexistence (Election Law, Principles and Rights, Article 72(8)).Every Venezuelan has to right to freedom of thought and expression by any means ofcommunication and diffusion. The law does not tolerate non-anonymity, war propaganda,
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 45 of 70discriminatory messages or those promoting religious intolerance (Bolivarian Republic ofVenezuela Constitution, Article 57).Communication is free and plural and comes with rights and responsibilities. Every citizen hasthe right to timely, accurate, and impartial information (Bolivarian Republic of VenezuelaConstitution, Article 58).The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is irrevocably free and independent, basing its values onfreedom, equality, justice, and international peace (Bolivarian Republic of VenezuelaConstitution, Fundamental Principles, Article 1).Freedom is an inherent right of Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution,Fundamental Principles, Article 1).Venezuela holds political pluralism, liberty, justice, social responsibility, and democracy as someits superior values (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, Fundamental Principles,Article 2).The state permits meetings and demonstrations in public places. Organizers must give 24-hournotice for the meeting or demonstration. An alternative day and time may be established if thereis a simultaneous meeting or demonstration taking place. The state does not regulate privatemeetings (Law on Political Parties, Public Meetings and Demonstrations, Articles 36-46).Every citizen has the right to demonstrate peacefully and unarmed (Bolivarian Republic ofVenezuela Constitution, Article 68).Venezuelan people have the power to submit referendum bills to the National Assembly if thepeople in favor of the bill represent at least twenty-five percent of the electors registered.Treaties, conventions or agreements that could compromise national sovereignty or transferpower to supranational bodies, may be submitted to a referendum on the initiative of thePresident of the Republic in Council of Ministers, by the vote of two-thirds or the members ofthe Assembly, or fifteen percent of the voters registered and entered in the civil and voterregistration (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, Article 73).Venezuelan people have to power to submit referendum bills to wholly or partially repealexisting laws if the people in favor of the referendum have support from at least 10 percent of theregistered electors (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, Article 74).Venezuelan people have to power to submit referendum bills to abrogate laws issued by thePresident of the Republic under Article 236 if those in favor of the referendum have the supportof at least 5 percent of the registered electors. The validity of referendum requires at least 40percent support from registered electors (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, Article74).Budget laws including taxation are not subject to referendum nor are laws for protecting,guaranteeing, and developing human rights (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution,Article 74).
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 46 of 70Under the Election Law, the state forbids any citizen from insulting public officials (Ray Walser,2012). Article 72 states that citizens are required to respect the honor, privacy, intimacy, self-image, confidence and reputations of individuals. Article 75 states that election propaganda mustrespect the honor, privacy, intimacy, self-image, confidence and reputations of individuals anddirect obscenities and derogatory statements against the agencies and entities of public power,institutions and public officials or public servants.Audit FindingsThe Venezuelan Constitution and Election Law establish and guarantee freedom of speech andassembly. The FDA auditors did not identify unreasonable restrictions on freedom of expressionor assembly for candidates, parties, or the public. The Law of Social Responsibility does notapply to political expression and assembly. Article 72 of the Election Law applies, partly, toslanderous, disrespectful, and dishonorable personal attacks on candidates, and not politicalexpression.Voter Registration RequirementsAudit Question1) Are the voter registration requirements reasonable?Legislative ResearchVenezuelan electors must be over 18 years of age (or be 18 years of age in the period of electionroll to the day of the election). Naturalized citizens must have more than 10 years of residence inthe country before voting (Election Law, Article 29).Audit FindingsUsing professional judgment and knowledge of other electoral systems, the FDA auditorsdetermine that a voting age of 18 is reasonable. In addition, the auditors decided that lettingnaturalized citizens to vote only after 10 years of residence is a reasonable requisite, because itallows such citizens to observe at least one election prior to voting.
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 47 of 70Voter Electoral ComplaintsAudit Questions1) Is there a reasonable electoral complaints process for voters?2) Are there reasonable mechanisms to enforce voter electoral complaints?Legislative ResearchThe National Electoral Council has the authority to hear and resolve complaints under theElection Power Act (Election Power Act, Article 33 (31)).Any electorate may make a claim about his or her electoral registration, and any complaint willgo through a legal process to determine its validity (General Election Regulation, Articles 28-29,Election Law, Article 21).Any electorate may make claims of electoral wrongdoing. There is a specific process in place forelectoral complaints, including a detailed written statement of the complaint/allegation,investigation, and opportunity for defense against complaint (Election Resolution No. 100304-0043, Articles 281-288).The state has specific complaints procedures for public complaints about election propaganda.The process involves complaint filing, investigation, appeal process, resolution includingremoval of propaganda and punitive measures against violator (Election Power Act, 20-33).The National Electoral Council has the authority to order media to withdraw election propagandaif it violates Election Law. Offenders or alleged offenders may object orally or in writing within5 days of notification. In case of dispute, within 5 days a hearing will open and a decision madewithin five working days of the hearing (Election Law, Article 90).Electors have the right to challenge voter registration decisions within 15 days of theirpublication. Within 5 working days of receiving the complaint, the Committee on Civil andRegistry will verify the eligibility of the complaint, after which an investigation takes placeincluding the submission of evidence. Within 15 days the complaint, the Committee on Civil andRegistry will submit a report to the National Election Council. Within 15 days, the NationalElection Council will make a decision on the complaint (Election Law, Articles 37-39).Audit FindingsVenezuela has a comprehensive electoral complaints process that is open to all citizens. Itinvolves an appeal process and enforcement mechanisms, including immediate removal of illegalelection propaganda.
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 48 of 70Voter ProtectionAudit Question1) Are there reasonable processes that protect voters in carrying the act of voting?Legislative ResearchEvery aspect of the Venezuelan automated ballot system via computers is subject to 14 audits,including software and closing vote totals (Letter to the Foundation of Democratic Advancementon the Secrecy of Venezuelan Voting Ballots, 2012).After voting, the voting machine issues a voucher to the elector that s/he deposits in a box. Theresults recorded on the voting machines are crosschecked with the vouchers (Letter to theFoundation of Democratic Advancement on the Secrecy of Venezuelan Voting Ballots, 2012).Voters who use voting machines have their fingers stained with a dye that sticks to the skin andcannot be removed by any product for a period of time (Letter to the Foundation of DemocraticAdvancement on the Secrecy of Venezuelan Voting Ballots, 2012).The state can randomly select electors for electoral service for a period of one year and it is one‘sconstitutional duty to carry out such service. The functions of electoral service are as follows: 1.Participate, through the Electoral Organizations in elections for elected office and referendum; 2.Participate in voter education programs in accordance with the requirements of the Commissionon Political Participation and Financing; 3. Attend training programs and training; 4. Engage inany other activity that defines the National Electoral Council. Public and private institutions arerequired to grant paid leave to electors selected (Election Law, Articles 50 and 51).Electors selected, barring exclusions, who fail to comply with the service are subject to finesbetween 10 to 50 tax units (Election Law, Article 53).The state does not allow electors to be forced or coerced under any circumstances in the exerciseof their vote (Election Law, Article 126).The state does not allow anyone to prevent an elector from exercising his or her right to vote(Election Law, Article 127).The state does not permit the act of voting armed unless required to ensure the safety of electorsand women electors (Election Law, Article 129).The state disallows the sale of alcoholic beverages 24 hours prior to the act of voting (ElectionLaw, Article 130).The state disallows public meetings or shows 24 hours prior to the act of voting (Election Law,Article 131).
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 49 of 70During voting, no elector can use photographic, cellular, video or any other electronic,audiovisual equipment (Election Resolution No. 100304-0043, Article 292).In response to any threat that jeopardizes the election and to ensure elections proceed withoutunlawful interruption and altercation, the Election Board may request the assistance of theRepublic military (Election Resolution No. 100304-0043, Article 293).Audit FindingsThere are several comprehensive processes designed to protect citizens in carrying out the act ofvoting, including detailed audits of the automated ballot system, mandatory electoral service tostrengthen the electoral system, mechanisms to protect the election, and the elector‘s right tovote.Voter AssistanceAudit Question1) Are there reasonable processes to assist voters with the act of voting?Legislative ResearchThe National Electoral Council carries out a simulated vote prior to Election Days. On August26, 2012, the National Electoral Council completed this procedure at 1,553 polling stationsthroughout the country (Venezuelan Voters to Receive Sample Ballot on August 16, 2012).Electors who are illiterate, blind and otherwise disabled and elderly may exercise their right tovote in the company of a person of their choice. No person shall be a companion for more thanone elector (Election Law, Article 128).The National Electoral Council shall ensure that electors with disabilities have the full exerciseof political rights without discrimination (Election Law, Article 187).Voter registration data on the electorate with disabilities shall contain indication of special needsfor the purposes of adequacy of physical spaces and tolls at the polling stations (Election Law,Article 188).The National Electoral Council will support the design of instruments to ensure votingaccessibility of electors with disabilities so they can vote without intermediaries (Election Law,Article 189).The National Electoral Council will develop outreach and educational campaigns to ensureaccess for electors with disabilities, including the use sign language and information materials inBraille designs (Election Law, Articles 190).
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 50 of 70Audit FindingsThere are widespread procedures in place to assistance elderly and disabled persons with the actof voting. In addition, the National Electoral Council will design instruments prior to ElectionDay to ensure that special needs electors can carry the act of voting.Citizens Living AbroadAudit Question1) Are there reasonable processes which allow citizens living abroad to vote?Legislative ResearchOverseas electors including those with residence in any other legal regime denoting residenceout of Venezuela have the right to vote. The right also applies to officials and officers attached toembassies, consulates, and trade offices abroad (Election Law, Article 124).The National Electoral Council shall determine the procedure for voting abroad (Election Law,Article 124).The state like any other has the authority and right to close and open embassies. For example, inresponse to a recent anti-Muslim publication by the Charlie Hebdo, the French governmentclosed twenty embassies (Why is Charlie Hebdo Not Being Charged for Hate Speech?, 2012).Ray Walser argues that Venezuela‘s closure of the embassy in Florida is an act ofdisenfranchisement, because Venezuelans in Florida now have to travel to the nearest openconsulate in New Orleans (Walser, 2012). Walser‘s argument fails to account for the authority ofgovernments to close and open embassies.Audit FindingsThe state allows Venezuelans who live abroad including those who work in embassies,consulates, and trade offices to vote. The state requires those abroad to register and vote atconsulates.Inclusion of MinoritiesAudit Question1) Are there reasonable measures that support the political representation of minorities anddisadvantaged groups of people?Legislative ResearchThe state guarantee indigenous groups three seats in the National Assembly. The three seats fromthe three regions (Election Resolution No. 100304-0043, Article 8):
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 51 of 701) West Region: comprised of the states of Zulia, Merida and Trujillo.2) South Region: comprised of the states of Amazonas and Apure.3) East Region: comprised of Anzoategui, Bolivar, Delta Amacuro, Monagas and Sucre.The National Electoral Council supports development outreach and educational programs forindigenous groups relating to electoral discourse and process. The NEC translates theseprograms and other information materials into the distinct indigenous languages for distributionand transmission on radio and community television stations. (Election Resolution No. 100304-0043, Article 5).Indigenous candidates must apply through their indigenous communities or organizations. Inaddition, the candidates must meet the following requirements (Election Resolution No. 100304-0043, Articles 142-145):1) Have exercised by traditional authority in their respective Community.2) Having established record in the social struggle for the recognition of their cultural identity.3) Have taken action on behalf of the people and indigenous communities or organizations.4) Belonging to an indigenous organization legally constituted a minimum of three (3) years ofoperation.Audit FindingsThe state guarantees three seats in the National Assembly for indigenous groups. In addition, theNational Electoral Council has a comprehensive information programs to inform and educateindigenous groups about the electoral process and upcoming elections.Total score for electoral fairness relating to voters: 84.9 percent out of 100 percent.
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 52 of 70AnalysisVenezuelan legislation pertaining to voters received a score of 84.9 percent. Without consideringvariables from other sections, voter section received a 100 percent score. Consequently, the FDAauditors found no deficiency in the legislation directly relating to voters. The only shortcomingsin legislation resulted from the finance section. Based on these findings and measurements, theFDA believes that the Venezuelan electoral process for voters is exceptional.The FDA auditors note many innovative and progressive provisions in this section, including butnot limited to: the National Electoral Council‘s design of instruments for disabled electors toensure universal suffrage; three seats guaranteed in the National Assembly for indigenousgroups; federally directed electoral information programs for indigenous groups; a NEC enforced48 hour blackout period for electioneering propaganda; and a comprehensive and just process forelectoral complaints.The only major deficiencies are from the finance section because there are no caps and limits oncampaign contributions and expenditures. Wealthier voters, candidates, and parties are favoredover less wealthy voters, candidates, and parties. The National Electoral Council works to offsetthe lack of caps and limits by ensuring complete and balanced election coverage. However, NECintervention does not apply to billboards, flyers, posters, or campaign events. To be consistentwith popular support, which is the basis for the registration of Venezuelan candidates and parties,the National Electoral Council needs to address the inherent favoritism to wealthier interests.Although the Venezuelan Constitution mentions proportional representation in Article 62, thereis no specific legislative requirement for how proportional representation determines the amountof electoral districts. Presently, proportional representation determines 30 percent of Venezuelanelectoral districts. The FDA believes that this process is significantly more accurate than first-past-the-post in capturing the voice of the people, because most votes are factored in determiningthe election winners. In the first-the-past-post system, only the votes of the candidates with themost votes count. Therefore, the FDA believes that the National Electoral Council should worktoward making every Venezuelan electoral district determined by proportional representation.
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 53 of 70Chapter Five: Overall Audit Results1) FDA research and audit results for the electoral fairness of Venezuelan laws on electoralfinance52.5 percent2) FDA research and audit results for the electoral fairness of Venezuelan laws on mediapolitical content100 percent3) FDA research and audit results for the electoral fairness of Venezuelan laws relating tocandidates and parties77.9 percent4) FDA research and audit results for the electoral fairness of Venezuelan laws relating to voters84.9 percentTotal score 78.83 percentThe bar chart illustrates the level of electoral fairness based on the audit result for each sectionand overall. Each section has an equal weight of 25 percent.
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 54 of 70Chapter Six: AnalysisOverall, the Venezuelan federal electoral system in terms of legislation received a verysatisfactory score of 78.83 percent out of 100 percent. The FDA auditors measured oneunacceptable passing score for electoral finance, and three exceptional scores for media,candidates and parties, and voters. The FDA auditors identified near perfect legislation inVenezuelan media laws, resulting from a commitment by the National Electoral Council tocomplete and balanced election coverage, limits on media ownership concentration, blackout anddisclosure requirements for opinion polls and surveys, and freedom of the media within thelimits of democracy. In the section relating to candidates and parties, the registration ofcandidates and parties are tied to popular support, poll watchers and challengers are allowedthroughout the election process, sample electoral ballots are transparent to the public prior to theElection Day, and campaign advertisements are regulated for equal access and balancedcoverage are provisions that stood out. In the section relating to voters, there are numerousmeasures to protect elections and the right to vote, and innovative and progressive measures toassist the electorate with voting including provisions for the National Electoral Council to createinstruments to assist disabled persons with the acting of voting. The FDA‘s measurement of78.83 percent reflects a very sound and fair electoral process within limits.However, the fact that electoral finances are only transparent to the state, there are no direct capsand limits on campaign contributions and expenditures, and no financial regulation of or limitson billboards, flyers, posters, and campaign events overshadows the exceptional aspects of theVenezuelan electoral process. These shortcomings in the Venezuelan electoral process allow thepossibility for financial corruption by pro-government parties, an unequal standard of financialaccounting and audits for all parties, targeting contributors of anti-government parties fordiscrimination or punishment, and an unfair and unequal playing field for candidates and parties.As a whole, these deficiencies could affect election outcomes by influencing the voice of theelectorate.
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 55 of 70Table 5Audit Main Variables Audit Weights Audit Results % ResultElectoral Finance Transparency 2.0 0.0 0.0%Contributions to Candidates & Parties 1.5 1.0 100%Caps on Contributions to Candidates & Parties 2.0 1.25 62.5%Campaign Expenditure Limits 2.25 1.0 44.44%Caps on Third-party Expenditures 1.25 1.0 80%Legislative Process 1.0 1.0 100%Broad & Balanced Election Coverage 3.0 3.0 100%Media Ownership 1.5 1.5 100%Survey/Polls 0.5 0.5 100%Freedom of Media 4.0 4.0 100%Press Code of Practice/Conduct 1.0 1.0 100%Campaign Period 0.2 0.2 100%Methodology for Election Winners 0.2 0.03 15%Electoral Boundaries 0.2 0.2 100%Process of Government 1.0 1.0 100%Registration of Candidates 0.2 0.2 100%Freedom of Expression and Assembly 0.2 0.2 100%Registration of Parties 2.0 2.0 100%Electoral Complaints 0.3 0.3 100%Presentation of Ballots 0.1 0.1 100%Poll Watchers/Challengers 0.1 0.1 100%Candidate and Party Campaign Advertisement 0.6 0.5 83.33%Blackout Period 0.2 0.2 100%Value of a Vote 0.5 0.5 100%Freedom of Speech and Assembly 2.0 2.0 100%Voter Registration Requirements 0.2 0.2 100%Voter Electoral Complaints Process 0.3 0.3 100%Voter Protection 0.2 0.2 100%Voter Assistance 0.2 0.2 100%Citizens Living Abroad 0.2 0.2 100%Inclusion of Minorities 0.2 0.2 100%Totals 40 31.53 78.83%*In 2012, the FDA conducted an identical audit on the American federal electoral system. TheAmerican system received the following scores:Electoral Finance 48.25 percentMedia Election Coverage 42.5 percentCandidates and Parties 57 percentVoters 70.25 percentTotal score 54.5 percent
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 56 of 70The American federal electoral system borders a failed state. Both the Venezuelan and Americansystems have severe electoral finance deficiencies. Yet, Venezuela has superior processes forcandidates and parties, media, and voters. Most notably, there is a significant difference betweenthe systems in the area of media. The American system favors near absolute media freedom, andthereby faces the potential for narrow and imbalanced election coverage. In contrast, Venezuelabalances freedom of the media with broad and balanced election coverage, and therebyencourages an informed electorate. Perhaps, to provoke discussion, the fact that the US has neverexperienced a political upheaval like Venezuela explains the difference between the two systems.In 1999, Hugo Chavez came to power democratically, and thereby upset the traditional politicalstatus quo, and created a division between the government and private media (which isconnected to the previous governors of Venezuelan society).
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 57 of 70Chapter Seven: Conclusion and RecommendationsBased on the FDA‘s research and measurements, the Venezuelan federal electoral system is verysatisfactory and demonstrates considerable evidence of an exceptionally sound structure andprocess. Yet, within this structure and around the process there is the potential for financialcorruption and an unequal electoral playing field for candidates and parties, which in turn mayaffect election outcomes. The FDA has no evidence of election finance wrongdoing, but thepotential exists. FDA analysis substantiates an unfair playing field for candidates and partiesresulting from the lack of controls for billboards, flyers, posters, campaign events. In addition,mass media advertisement daily quotas are in excessive of per capita disposable income level. Toensure that the Venezuelan elections accurately reflect the voice of people, the electoral systemrequires financial reform – the election results are less reliable without it. The FDA makes thisconclusion despite Venezuela‘s advancements in automated voting and the extensive auditsaccompanying it. The fair and efficient count of votes, whether manually or automated, does notnecessarily guarantee fair election outcomes.
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 58 of 70Table 6FDA Scoring Scales Score Range Revised 2012 VenezuelaScoreA +Exceptional electoral process85% to 100%100% maximum scoren/aAOutstanding electoral process80% to 84.99% n/aB+Very satisfactory electoralprocess75% to 79.99% 78.83%BSatisfactory electoral process70% to 74.99% n/aD to C+Unsatisfactory electoralprocess (many deficienciesand/or major deficiencies inthe electoral legislation)50% to 69.99% n/aFFailed electoral process0% to 49.99%0% minimum scoren/aFoundation for Democratic Advancement (2012)
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 59 of 70RecommendationsThe FDA focuses on major reform recommendations which if implemented would eliminate thepotential for unfair election outcomes.Electoral finance1) Venezuela requires legislation that guarantees public transparency of the financialinformation of all candidates and parties. This information should be readily available to allcitizens of Venezuela. In comparison, the American federal electoral system employs modellegislation on electoral finance transparency, including online access to all financialtransactions and positions.ImpactComplete electoral financial transparency for candidates, parties, and the public will reducesignificantly the potential for financial corruption by candidates and parties and may creategreater public confidence in the electoral process.2) Venezuela requires caps and limits on campaign contributions and expenditures (forcandidates and parties). In addition, mass media advertisement daily quotas need to bereflective of per capita disposable income and reasonably attainable by all candidates andparties in order to facilitate a fair campaign playing field. Further, billboards, flyers, posters,and campaign events are not subject to financial regulation or limits.ImpactCaps and limits on campaign contributions and expenditures will simplify the Venezuelancampaign process and make it fairer as long as the caps and limits are reflective of currentper capita disposable income level and reasonably attainable by all registered parties.
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 60 of 70ReferencesAgreement between CNE and UNASUR. (2012). Agreement between the National ElectoralChamber (CNE) of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and The Union of SouthAmerican Nations (UNASUR) on the international electoral cooperation for presidentialelections of October, seven, 2012. Retrieved from the Venezuelan Embassy in Ottawa,Canada in word format.Antitrust. (2012). Venezuelan antitrust bill establishes more ways to expropriateCompanies of the public sector are exempted from the law.Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution. (2012). National Electoral Council.Retrieved fromhttp://www.cne.gov.ve/web/normativa_electoral/constitucion/indice.phpDetermine How Much to Allocate to Each Expense. (2013). Desjardins. Retrieved March 14,2013 fromhttp://www.desjardins.com/en/particuliers/conseils/gerer-finances/budget-mensuel/calculez-depenses.jspDuring the Election Campaign Propaganda. (2012). General Provisions. Chapter 1. Retrievedfrom the Venezuelan Embassy in Ottawa, Canada in pdf format.Elecciones presidenciales de Venezuela de 2012. (2012). In Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.Retrieved from September 18, 2012 fromhttp://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elecciones_presidenciales_de_Venezuela_de_2012Election Law. (2012). National Electoral Council. 2012. Retrieved fromhttp://www.cne.gov.ve/web/normativa_electoral/ley_organica_procesos_electorales/indice.phpElection Power Act. (2012). National Electoral Council. Retrieved fromhttp://www.cne.gov.ve/web/normativa_electoral/ley_organica_poder_electoral/indice.phpElection Resolution No. 100304-0043. (2010). National Electoral Council.No. 5 Regulation of Organic Law of Elections in Safeguard of the Election CampaignFinancing. Caracas. March 4, 2010.Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act. (1985). Retrieved from the Department of Justicehttp://www.elections.ca/content.aspx?section=res&dir=cir/red&document=index&lang=eFirst Amendment of Constitution. (2012). National Electoral Council. Retrieved fromhttp://www.cne.gov.ve/web/normativa_electoral/constitucion_primera_enmienda/titulo1.php
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 61 of 70FDA Global Electoral Fairness Report on the United States. (2012). Foundation forDemocratic Advancement. Retrieved fromhttp://democracychange.org/2013/04/2012-fda-electoral-fairness-report-on-the-united-states/FDA Media Study of the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election. (2012). Foundation for DemocraticAdvancement. Retrieved fromhttp://democracychange.org/2012/12/2012-united-states-presidential-election-media-study/FDA Talking Points Series: 10 Percent Rule. (2013). Foundation for Democratic Advancement.Retrieved fromhttp://foundationfordemocraticadvancement.blogspot.ca/2013/03/fda-talking-points-series-10-percent.htmlGDP per capita (current US$). (2012a). index mundi. Retrieved fromhttp://www.indexmundi.com/venezuela/gdp_per_capita_%28ppp%29.htmlGDP per capita (current US$). (2012b). The World Bank. Retrieved fromhttp://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.PCAP.CDIn Venezuela, electoral myths are history Digital Vote. (2012). Digital Vote. September 8, 2012.Retrieved fromhttp://digitalvote.wordpress.com/2012/09/08/in-venezuela-electoral-myths-are-history/Law on Political Parties, Public Meetings and Demonstrations. (2012). National ElectoralCouncil. Retrieved fromhttp://www.cne.gov.ve/web/normativa_electoral/ley_partidos_politicos/indice.phpLetter to the Foundation for Democratic Advancement about the Secrecy ofVenezuelan Voting Ballots. (2012). Smartmatic. Retrieved fromhttp://foundationfordemocraticadvancement.blogspot.ca/2012/10/insight-into-venezuelas-automated.htmlMore than 18 million registered in the Electoral an election year. (2011). informe21.com. DJEditor on Mon, 31/10/2011 - 19:21. Retrieved fromhttp://informe21.com/consejo-nacional-electoral/mas-18-millones-inscritos-registro-electoral-ano-las-eleccionesNational Electoral Council Investigates Campaigns. (2012). Embassy of the Bolivarian Republicof Venezuela (Washington, D.C. U.S.A.). Published: 08/31/2012. Retrieved fromhttp://venezuela-us.org/2012/08/31/national-electoral-council-investigates-campaigns/Proposed Electoral Division Areas, Boundaries, and Names for Alberta. (February, 2010).Interim Report to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. Retrieved fromhttp://www.altaebc.ab.ca/EBC%20Interim%20Report_web5mb.pdf
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 62 of 70Redistribution Federal Electoral Districts. (2012). Canadian Federal Government. Retrievedfrom http://www.redecoupage-federal-redistribution.ca/content.asp?section=ab&dir=now/proposals&document=part2&lang=eResolution No. 100603 – 0125. (2010). National Electoral Council. Caracas, June 3, 2010 200 °and 151 °. Retrieved from from the Venezuelan Embassy in Ottawa, Canada in pdfformat.Resolution No. 101013-042. (2010). National Electoral Council. Caracas, October 13, 2010 200º and 151 º. Retrieved from from the Venezuelan Embassy in Ottawa, Canada in pdfformat.Rueda, J. (2012). Venezuela election council takes ad off air. Associated Press – Fri, Aug 31,2012. Retrieved fromhttp://news.yahoo.com/venezuela-election-council-takes-ad-off-air-060735382.htmlSuggett, J. (2010). ―CNE: Venezuelan Electoral Districts Drawn by Standard Method, NotPartisan Politics.‖ Venezuelanaylsis.com. September 28th2010. Retrieved fromhttp://venezuelanalysis.com/news/5674Venezuela: Legislative Assault on Free Speech, Civil Society. (2010). Human Rights Watch.December 22, 2010. Retrieve from http://www.hrw.org/news/2010/12/22/venezuela-legislative-assault-free-speech-civil-societyVenezuela Antitrust Legislation. (2012). Indiana University Law. Retrieved fromhttp://www.law.indiana.edu/instruction/hbuxbaum/5196/docs/Antitrust_case_in_Venezuela.pdfVenezuelan antitrust bill establishes more ways to expropriate. (2012). El Universal. Caracus,Venezuela. Wednesday May 23, 2012. Translated by Karen Daza. Retrieve fromhttp://www.eluniversal.com/economia/120523/venezuelan-antitrust-bill-establishes-more-ways-to-expropriateVenezuelan election law approved. (2009). BBC. August 1, 2009. Retrieved fromhttp://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8179438.stmVenezuelan Voters to Receive Sample Ballot on August 16. (2012). Embassy of theBolivarian Republic of Venezuela (Washington, D.C. U.S.A.). Retrieved fromhttp://venezuela-us.org/2012/08/10/venezuelan-voters-to-see-sample-ballots-for-presidential-elections-from-august-16/
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 63 of 70Vergara, E. (2012). Venezuela Elections 2012: Chavez Has Money Edge In Presidential Race.08/23/12 07:57 AM ET. Retrieved fromhttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/23/venezuela-elections-2012-chavez-Walser, R. (2012). The Chávez Plan to Steal Venezuelas Presidential Election: What ObamaShould Do. September 19, 2012. The Heritage Foundation.Wilpert, G. (2010). A New Opportunity for Venezuela‘s Socialists. Venezuelanalysis.com.October 1st 2010. Retrieve from http://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/5683Why is Charlie Hebdo Not Being Charged for Hate Speech?. (2012). Foundation for DemocraticAdvancement. Retrieved fromhttp://foundationfordemocraticadvancement.blogspot.ca/2012/09/why-is-charlie-hebdo-not-being-charged.html
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 64 of 70AppendixResearch and Audit MethodologyThe FDA research methodology is rooted in non-partisanship and the political concepts ofegalitarianism and liberalism. A non-partisan approach allows the FDA to remain as objective aspossible.Egalitarianism is part of the FDA methodology from the standpoint of political equality (orneutrality), in which each person has one vote of equal value. The FDA extends political equalityinto non-election and election periods, demanding a relatively equal playing field for registeredcandidates and parties and broad and balanced political discourse. The FDA believes thatpolitical equality is a core component of democracy, whereby electoral legislation is neutral forall candidates and parties, the value of a vote is same for all eligible voters, and candidates andparties have an opportunity to disseminate political viewpoints in a reasonably balanced manner.The FDA recognizes that complete political equality is not likely attainable, but assumes that areasonable state of political equality is possible.Liberalism is part of the FDA methodology from the standpoint of political freedom, andprogress, innovation, and reform through the freedom to initiate reform. The FDA believes thatpolitical freedom is also a core component of democracy, whereby candidates and parties,citizens, and media persons are permitted to express their political views.The FDA believes that the union of freedom and equality, an essential part of democracy, meanscompromise for the greater democratic good of society and political freedom within the boundsof political equality.Based on its research of international electoral systems and study of fundamental democraticconcepts, the FDA believes that optimal democracy results from a balance of freedom andequality. Too much freedom can allow the most powerful (or wealthy) to dominate politically,and too much equality can weaken individual freedoms to a point that impedes progress andinnovation. The FDAs methodology centers on finding the optimal balance between freedomand equality.The FDA methodology has two main components: research and audit. The research componentis qualitative, based on collecting relevant facts and data, and sourcing the information collectedusing APA guidelines. The audit process too is qualitative but also employs a quantitative aspect.The audit entails team analysis of research using matrices and financial spread sheets andstatistical data, and the interpretation of the audit results using scoring scales.
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 65 of 70MatricesThe FDA matrices are a detailed, spreadsheet scoring system of relevant data and information.The matrices scores conform to the concept of optimal democracy defined as a balance offreedom and equality. The purpose of the matrices is to objectify the audit process and helpcreate result reliability through an established structure of scoring. Relevance to the electoralprocess and the four audit sections inform the variables in the matrices. To illustrate, the twosubsections below were part of the matrices used in the Venezuelan electoral fairness audit:Media Election Coverage, Matrix Section, for VenezuelaTable 7Categories Measures Example orAlternativeScaleRational ScoreFreedom of theMediaIs the freedom ofthe media(includingjournalists)established throughconstitutional orlegislative law?If yes<4; ifno=0The score of 4 represents thesignificance of mediafreedom within reasonablelimits. The score of 0represents imbalanced, one-sided political discourse inthe media throughunreasonable restrictions onmedia freedom.4Broad & BalancedPolitical CoverageDuring thecampaign period isthe media (privateand public)required legally topublish/broadcastbroad/balancedcoverage ofregisteredcandidates andparties?If yes=2; ifno=0; iffreedom ofmedia=0, thenyes=0The campaign period is themost heightened period interms of voter awareness.The media due to its massinfluence has the means toimpact significantly electoraldiscourse. The requirementof balanced, broad mediacoverage would prevent themedia from beingimbalanced and partisan.0In this example, media freedom garnered significant weight (40 percent of the total score forelection content of media) and value in other subsections. (As an example, see the intersection ofcolumn Example or Alternative Scale and row Impartial and Balanced Political Coverageabove.) Impartial and Balanced Political Coverage is weighted on grounds of the democraticimportance of a broad and balanced electoral discourse and a corresponding well-informedelectorate. As mentioned, a positive or negative impact on the electoral process determinesmatrix weightings and scores. According to the scores in the matrix example above, the FDAassumes that freedom of media has more impact on the electoral process than impartial andbalanced political coverage.
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 66 of 70The FDA matrices are comprised of four sections:1) Electoral finance.2) Media Election Coverage.3) Candidates and parties.4) Voters.In the electoral finance section there are 14 subsection variables; in election content of mediasection there are 11 subsection variables; in the candidates and parties section there are 42subsection variables; and in the voters section there are 37 subsection variables. The subsectionvariables are the focal points of the audit. Each subsection variable has a weighted maximumscore.Weighting and ScoringOverall, the soundness of reasons for scores and the relevancy of each area guides FDA grading.Since each audit section has a maximum and minimum score, subsection scores are determinedbased on their relation to each other and their impact on optimal democracy as related to therelevant section. The FDA acknowledges that the determination of scores is an unavoidablequalitative step. The FDA minimizes the subjectivity of scores through required group consensuson their values.Each audit section has a score range between 0 and 10, and each section counts equally. Asmentioned, the FDA matrices allow, based on relevancy, subsections apply to multiple sections.For example, the subsection electoral finance transparency is part of the electoral finance, votersand candidates and parties sections.As illustrated in the matrix example above, scores are based on the formula if yes=#, if no=#.The scale rests on yes and no answers. In the case of ambiguous answers, the FDA uses thelesser than and greater than values (―<‖ and ―>‖). When these values are used, the FDA auditteam attempts to reach consensus on the score, and if that it is not possible, the FDA takes themean of the individual scores, with each score having equal weight. Relevant and soundevidence, facts, and/or reasons, whether team or individual, must support audit scores. Toenhance the reliability of audit results, the FDA has a group of experienced auditors. An auditteam has a minimum quorum of five auditors and maximum of nine auditors. Any auditors inexcess of nine act as silent observers. New auditors are introduced to the process first asobservers, then as researchers, and finally as auditors within a team of experienced auditors.SurveyThe FDA has an ongoing survey of relevant persons with a background in political science,finance, accounting or related field on the FDA‘s main variables for electoral finance. The FDAused two surveys: a scoring table and preference table (reproduced below). The purpose of thesurveys is to test the validity of FDA weights for its electoral finance variables.
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 67 of 70Survey 1Please weight each section so that the total score for all sections is 10; weights based on therelevancy to the fairness of democratic processes (for registered candidates and parties).Sections Score RationaleElectoral finance transparencyContributions to candidates &parties restricted to citizensCaps on electoral contributions tocandidates & partiesCampaign expenditure limits & partysubsidiesThird-party spending limitsElectoral legislative processes
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 68 of 70Survey 2Rank each section based on the relevancy to the fairness of democratic processes (for registeredcandidates and parties).Sections HighlyinsignificantVeryInsignificantInsignificant Significant VerysignificantHighlysignificantRationaleElectoralfinancetransparencyContributionsto candidates& partiesrestricted tocitizensCaps onelectoralcontributionsto candidates& partiesCampaignexpenditurelimits & partysubsidiesThird-partyspendinglimitsElectorallegislativeprocessesAudit FocusThe FDA audits four electoral areas because they cover broad aspects of the electoral process.The FDA acknowledges that electoral laws may not necessarily correspond to theimplementation of those laws or the public response to them. The implementation and responsecould be positive or negative, in terms of electoral fairness. Nevertheless, laws provide thefoundation for democracy, framework for the electoral system, and an indication of electoralfairness. A countrys constitutional and/or electoral laws are part of the functionality of itsdemocracy. The FDA acknowledges that in countries that are lawless, process audits are useless.However, in countries guided by the rule of law, process audits are extremely useful indetermining electoral fairness.
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 69 of 70FDA Research and Audit Team and ObserversFDA ResearchersMr. Stephen Garvey, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, University of British Columbia andMaster of Philosophy in Environment and Development, University of Cambridge.Mrs. Ana María Ortega Proaňa, Bachelor of Science in Engineering, Escuela Politécnica delEjército (Quito, Ecuador), Telecom & Law Specialist, Universidad Andina SimónBolívar (Quito, Ecuador) and Universidad del Externado de Colombia (Bogotá,Colombia), Master of Strategic Management, Instituto Universitario de Postgrado deEspaña (Madrid, Spain).FDA Audit TeamChief Electoral AuditorMr. Stephen Garvey, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, University of British Columbia andMaster of Philosophy in Environment and Development, University of Cambridge.Electoral AuditorsMr. Michael Fabris, Bachelor of Accounting, Brock University.Mr. Dale Monette, Bachelor of Commerce, University of Saskatchewan.Mr. Mark Schmidt, Bachelor of Science in Psychology, University of Calgary.Mrs. Lindsay Tetlock, Master of Arts in Historical Studies (with emphasis on Latin America),University of Calgary.ObserversMs. Mahdie Chowdhury, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, University of Calgary.Ms. Thamires Aille de Souza Lima, Bachelor of Arts in International Relations, CentroUniversitario Belas Artes de Sao Paulo.James Porter, Bachelor of Arts in Accounting and Philosophy, University of Calgary.Mrs. Liza Valentine, Master of Architecture, University of Calgary.Mr. George Wong, Bachelor of Arts in Music, Berklee College of Music.Report WriterMr. Stephen Garvey, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, University of British Columbia andMaster of Philosophy in Environment and Development, University of Cambridge.
    • Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 70 of 70Report ReviewersMr. James Porter, Bachelor of Arts in Accounting and Philosophy, University of Calgary.Mrs. Lindsay Tetlock, Master of Arts in Historical Studies (with emphasis on Latin America),University of Calgary.