Crime Against Democracy
Diario "Las Americas"
By Carlos Sánchez Berzaín
Fraud is an action which is contrary to the truth and righteousness to the detriment of the person against whom it is performed. In the electoral process, fraud is premeditated and deliberated in order to modify the results. Electoral fraud directly impacts public order because it is made against all of society, whose free will is also altered and falsified.
Elections are not the same as Democracy, but it is an element of it, the vote is only part of the electoral process. Electoral fraud can be realized before, during, or after the vote is casted.
The first step in the electoral process is the individual’s voter registration, which validates their existence and gives them the right to exercise the vote. This is where electoral fraud begins: with duplications of identities, false registration, registration of foreigners, absent or deceased individuals, suppression of voter registration and other alterations which favor the Government in control. In countries such as Bolivia the voter registration and identification system s are in the hands of the Government of Morales’ "Cuban cooperation".
Before ballots are cast, elections rules are outlined and defined: constituencies, venues, type of ballot -if paper or electronic-, forms, how to process and count the votes, voter registry, rules of campaign and propaganda, access to the media, virtually everything is regulated. At this point, fraud affects the campaign strategy, such was the case as in the past elections in Bolivia where the Government implemented the "community vote"; in Ecuador the allocation system was changed to favor pro government forces; or as in Venezuela, where the pro-Government candidate - owner of the electoral system — could coerce, use resources and State assets as their own, offering perks to the public, access the media with an evident advantage against the opponent, and prevent citizens from voting abroad by, for example, closing the Consulate of Venezuela in Miami..
On election day, fraud is more evident and noticeable -by other actions such as, by buying the vote, coercion, voter transfers, theft or destruction of ballot boxes, record tampering, stuffing of votes, and misuse of votes, to name a few.
After the election, fraud occurs during the count or lack of thereof, cancellation, tampering and disappearance of records, illegal decisions of election officials; threats such as these are occurring today to the candidate Capriles in Venezuela. In addition, all this occurs under the shadow of a Judicial System which is also submitted to the fraud.
These are all occurrences with validated evidence in three countries of the 21st Century Socialism. It is time that democratic governments worry and do something about it where there are elections without democracy: promote an Interamerican Electoral Commission and denote electoral fraud as a crime against democracy. Failure to do so – may it be for either a good commercial or diplomatic reason, could be seen as complicity.
Bolivian author, lawyer and political scientist. He has been Minister of State and parliamentary.