International observers overseeing an audit of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's victory in this week's recall referendum concluded Thursday that the opposition's key fraud allegation was baseless. International observers overseeing an audit of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's victory in this week's recall referendum concluded Thursday that the opposition's key fraud allegation was baseless. In pressing their claims, opposition leaders argued that a computer program used Sunday in the electronic voting process had limited the number of anti-Chavez votes, automatically switching those above the cap to votes in favor of the president, informs Houston Chronicle As evidence, the opposition pointed to hundreds of cases in which different voting machines in the same precincts recorded the exact or nearly exact number of anti-Chavez votes. But a computerized review Thursday of the electronic ballots cast nationwide found that parallel vote totals appeared both for and against Chavez in more than 700 of 12,000 polling stations. The review, conducted by experts from the Atlanta-based Carter Center and the Organization of American States, found exact or nearly matching anti-Chavez vote totals on different machines in 402 stations. But the study also found nearly identical tallies in favor of Chavez in 311 voting places. While seemingly suspicious, the incidence of parallel counts fell within the range of mathematical probability, a Carter Center official said. "The main point here is that it affects both sides," said Jennifer McCoy of the Carter Center, the organization headed by former President Jimmy Carter that observes elections worldwide. "That indicates a random mathematical effect." According to BBC NEWS, Venezuela's electoral authorities say preliminary results of an audit of the vote on President Hugo Chavez's rule show there was no fraud. They say more than 30% of 150 randomly chosen polling sites have been checked so far - confirming the outcome of the vote there. The opposition has refused to take part in the review of Sunday's poll, which Mr Chavez officially won. International election monitors have endorsed the result. The outcome of the audit is expected to be published at the weekend. Announcing the audit on Tuesday, former US President Jimmy Carter said he and the OAS had suggested the move to allay fears over the validity of the outcome. He stressed that he himself had "no reason to doubt the integrity of the electoral process or the accuracy of the referendum itself". CNN publishes, that opponents of the left-wing, populist leader said electoral authorities rigged Sunday's vote so Chavez would triumph, making it pointless for them to compete in a September 26 poll to elect state governors and local mayors. "This National Electoral Council and voting system ... do not create the right context for participation in any electoral process, that's ruled out," Jesus Torrealba, spokesman for the opposition Democratic Coordinator coalition, told Reuters. The opposition called for the electoral authority to be replaced and the automated voting system overhauled. International observers have already endorsed Sunday's referendum, in which 59 percent of voters ratified Chavez in the presidency against 41 percent who sought his recall. Former paratrooper Chavez, who was first elected in 1998 and will now serve out his term until 2006 elections, has accused his foes of being sore losers and warned them against stirring up unrest in the world's fifth-largest oil exporter. The fraud charges have inflamed political tensions in the wake of the poll that pitted a nationalist president viewed by supporters as a champion of the poor against opponents who consider him a bullying dictator.
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