Salem Radio Network News Wednesday, December 8, 2021

World

Venezuela starts closing polling stations in regional elections

By Vivian Sequera and Mayela Armas

CARACAS (Reuters) – Polling stations in Venezuela started closing on Sunday following regional and local elections, the country’s top electoral authority said on Sunday, without hinting at when results would start coming in.

“As established by law, voting tables have started the process of closing,” the country’s National Electoral Council (CNE) said in a message on Twitter.

Defense minister General Vladimir Padrino said voting centers were being closed “except in those where voters remain.”

The Interior and Justice Ministry said it dealt with an “irregular situation” in San Francisco, located in Venezuela’s north-eastern Zulia state, where one man was killed and another two people were injured.

The incident, which involved firearms, took place after midday near a voting center in San Francisco, according to a military report from the region seen by Reuters.

Citizens cast their votes for over 3,000 state governors, mayors and city councils across the South American country, with 21 million Venezuelans registered to take part in the elections.

The elections saw the opposition politicians return to the electoral fray after boycotting presidential and parliamentary elections in 2018 and 2020 respectively.

The 14,000 polling stations across Venezuela were slated to open by 6:00 a.m. local time (1000 GMT), however a number did not open until midday due to voting officials arriving late.

Some voters complained they did not appear on electoral lists, or that their center had been changed without their knowledge. Others said they had been denied entry to vote because of the way they were dressed.

“Small and isolated problems,” were registered during the course of voting, the CNE said earlier in the day.

Though the authority’s president Pedro Calzadilla said voter participation had been good, Reuters witnesses reported low turnout.

Participation in Venezuela’s regional elections normally hits between 40% and 45%, according to pollsters.

(Reporting by Vivian Sequera and Mayela Armas in Caracas; Additional reporting by Mariela Nava in Maracaibo, Anggy Polanco in San Cristobal, and Maria Ramirez in Ciudad Bolivar.); Writing by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Diane Craft)

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