UPDATE - Software Error Impedes Venezuela Elections...(Latest news)

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NOTE: Update to post by Martin Thompson 5/23: http://greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id=003DL2


May 24, 2000

Software Error Impedes Venezuela's Elections


CARACAS - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has asked the United States to help fix a computer software glitch that threatens to disrupt the May 28 general elections.

"This is very strange," Chavez said, referring to the computer problem that prevented election officials from accessing the computer program that runs the complex electoral process.

The problem was discovered by two U.S. technicians working for Elections Systems and Software (ES&S), which supplied the system to be used in next Sunday's elections.

"After working for four or five hours into the early morning, they haven't been able to open the program and that's very serious. That's why I called the U.S. ambassador, John Maisto, at 5:30 a.m. (0930 GMT) to officially ask his government to do what needs to be done with that company and to make the decisions that need to be made," Chavez told Radio Caracas Television.

Although ES&S is ultimately responsible for solving the problem, Chavez said he asked for direct U.S. government involvement because the United States recommended the company.

However, Chavez said he was confident the problem would be solved in the next few days.

"The National Election Council is meeting at this very moment to analyze the problem, and hopefully we'll hold the elections on May 28 as scheduled," Chavez said.

"This strange matter weighs on the national mood with concern," the president said, acknowledging fears that some elections could be rescheduled.

In the event the problem continues, some political analysts have suggested holding separate elections.

Under such a scenario, the elections for president, the national assembly and representatives to the Andean and Latin American parliaments would be held Sunday, while governors, regional legislative councils, mayors and provincial councils would be chosen at a later date.

However, the idea is not popular among candidates from either the ruling party or the opposition.

Both Chavez and his two rivals, Francisco Arias and Claudio Fermin, oppose postponing the elections, a sentiment shared by politicians across Venezuela.

Tuesday marked the first time the National Election Council, Chavez and members of his Cabinet have acknowledged the seriousness of the computer problem and the possibility of postponing the elections.

Prior to Tuesday's plea for help, government officials and Chavez downplayed the situation as a relatively minor computer glitch.



-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), May 24, 2000

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