Press Release Latin America and the Caribbean

Statistical Study Shows That First Audit of Venezuelan Election is Decisive

May 09, 2013

Contact: Karen Conner, (202) 293-5380 x117Mail_Outline

May 9, 2013

Probability of Getting First Audit Results if Vote Count Was Stolen is Less than One in 25 Thousand Trillion

For Immediate Release: May 9, 2013
Contact: Dan Beeton, 202-239-1460

Washington, D.C.– A statistical analysis of the voting machine audit from Venezuela’s April 14 election, done on the day of the election, shows that this audit was decisive.  The odds of getting the April 14 audit result if in fact the unaudited machines contained enough errors to reverse the election outcome are far less than one in 25 thousand trillion.  A new paper details and explains the statistical analysis behind the results that CEPR has previously made public.

“There is really no doubt at all about this election result,” said Mark Weisbrot, CEPR co-Director and co-author of the paper. “The Obama administration must know that auditing the remaining voting machines cannot change the outcome, yet they continue to pretend differently and refuse to recognize the election results.”

Weisbrot noted that few in the international press have shown interest in what this huge election-day audit, conducted in the presence of tens of thousands of witnesses, can tell us about the result of the election or the probability of fraud.  

“It’s very strange,” he said. “It is kind of like reporting on climate change and ignoring all the scientific evidence.”  

The paper, “A Statistical Note on the April 14 Venezuelan Presidential Election and Audit of Results” by David Rosnick and Mark Weisbrot, is available here.

The initial results of Venezuela’s April 14 presidential election returned 7,575,506 votes for Nicolás Maduro, and 7,302,641 votes for opposition candidate Henrique Capriles.  This is a difference of 272,865 votes, or 1.8 percent of the two-way total between the candidates. Following the announcement of the official results, Capriles asked for a full audit. Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) agreed to audit the remaining machines, although Capriles later rejected their proposed audit.  The U.S. government, unlike almost all other governments in the world, has held off on officially recognizing the Maduro government until such an audit is conducted.

In the April 14 presidential election, voters expressed their preference by pressing a computer touch screen, which then prints out a paper receipt of their vote.  The voter then checks to make sure that the receipt was the same as her choice, and deposits the paper receipt in a sealed box.

When the polls closed, a random sample of 53 percent[i] of all the machines (20,825 out of 39,303) was chosen, and a manual tally was made of the paper receipts.  This “hot audit” was done on site, in the presence of observers from both campaigns, as well as witnesses from the community.  

The audit came back clean – finding no discrepancies between the machines and the paper receipts. This means that in order for the election results to be changed, and the winning margin to shift from Maduro to Capriles, all of the remaining discrepancies would have to exist in the remaining 46 percent of machines

What if it were true that there were enough mismatches in the 39,303 machines to have given Maduro a 50.8 percent majority, when Capriles had been the true winner?   CEPR calculated that the probability of getting the results of the first audit would then have been far less than one in 25 thousand trillion.


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