Venezuelan bloggers report empty voting sites in today's elections for National Assembly Deputies.
After touring Caracas, The Devil’s Excrement estimates that abstention rates would be higher in this election than it was for the City Council elections last August in which abstention rates reached 68%, a very high percentage compared to Venezuela’s historical voting participation rate. Devil’s indicates that even in traditional chavista zones, such as Catia, turnout appears to be meager. There are no lines in voting centers in poor and working class neighborhoods, such as Petare and Caricuao; while downtown Caracas looked abandoned. (pictures in the weblog)
A pro-Chávez blogger reports moderate to low participation in poor and working class neighborhoods, and almost no voters in upper middle class neighborhoods. Luigino Bracci Roa estimates that abstention would be around 50%.
Another opposition blogger who went to vote – despite massive withdrawal of major opposition parties – says that machines were working properly in his voting center, so it takes a while for him, even though there were no many voters in line. Rodolfo also commented that churches were full, although he does not know whether people were just attending regular religious services or responding to Sumate's call for demonstrating against elections.
Very few bloggers are reporting what is happening outside Caracas. Daniel Duquenal reports a low turnout in San Felipe, where Chávez won the referendum by a small margin last year. A blogger from Barquisimeto reports that he was offered the equivalent to US $160 to vote for Chávez-aligned candidates. According to his story, he refused, but one of his friends did take the money and went to vote.
Several bloggers comment on the information black out surrounding today’s elections. Private TV channels overlook election news items, and, surprisingly, there is little coverage in the government-run TV channel.