Caracas, Venezuela – At of 9:45pm (local) on Sunday an undisclosed number of voting centers across Venezuela had remained open for continued voting. These are centers that due to high voter turnout or to delays at the beginning of the day still have voters lined up outside their doors waiting to cast their ballot.
But now the results are in: the Consejo Nacional Electoral (National Electoral Council—CNE) announced that Chávez won with 54.42 percent of the votes—a nearly 10 percentage point lead over Henrique Capriles who received 44.97 percent of the votes according to the first CNE report.
A wide array of minor irregularities have been reported in polling centers throughout the day in all corners of the country from technical malfunctions of the machines to isolated incidents of voter violence. Despite these reports, this historic day of elections has by all accounts been a smooth, civil and massively participatory democratic event.
President Hugo Chávez and his contender, Henrique Capriles Radonski, cast their vote in the early afternoon here in Caracas, accompanied and cheered on by their supporters. Both candidates reiterated the importance of maintaining peace and order in the country and have since called for patience and calm in the anxious hours that would transpire before the first results were issued.
Venezuelan journalist Nelson Bocaranda, who is highly critical of the government tweeted the following: “We [the opposition] were close. We are half of the country. Those who abstained need to reflect,” he wrote, signaling a victory for President Chávez.
*Juan Víctor Fajardo is a guest blogger for AQ Online and Venezuelan freelance journalist and photographer based out of Caracas. He is currently working as a consultant on Mercosur issues. His Twitter account is @juanvictorfg