Venezuela’s opposition presented evidence Thursday of possible ballot tampering in gubernatorial elections, seeking to bolster its claim that its shock loss at the polls was the result of fraud. The Democratic Unity Roundtable’s claim rests on results from a single race, in industrial Bolivar state, where pro-government candidate Justo Noguera was declared the winner by just 1,471 votes over opposition candidate Andres Velasquez. The opposition coalition said the results on the National Electoral Council’s website don’t match the tallies from 11 ballot boxes certified by poll workers representing multiple political parties. It said the inconsistencies resulted in 2,199 votes from those polling stations being awarded incorrectly to Noguera, enough to swing the vote in his favor. Electoral authorities had no immediate comment.
For the opposition, the disputed figures represent a glimmer of hope following days of internal feuding in which crestfallen leaders have alternately blamed their big loss in Sunday’s regional elections on voter apathy, strategic missteps and a series of pre-election maneuvers by the government to suppress turnout.
Pre-election polls predicted that popular outrage over triple-digit inflation, widespread food shortages and the recent crackdown on dissent gave the opposition a virtual lock on the majority of Venezuela’s 23 governorships. But in the end, President Nicolas Maduro’s opponents carried only five districts, suffering defeat even in strongholds such as Miranda state surrounding Caracas that was engulfed by months of anti-government unrest earlier this year.