CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The latest on Venezuela’s gubernatorial elections (all times local):
Venezuela’s National Electoral Council says candidates for the ruling socialist party have won a majority of the 23 governors’ offices up for grabs in Sunday’s regional elections. Opposition leaders are disputing the vote count.
Pro-government electoral council president Tibisay Lucena says opposition candidates won just five of 22 races where the results are considered irreversible.
Projections by independent pollsters had predicted the opposition would win a majority of the governorships for the first time in nearly 20 years of socialist rule.
Some polling sites in Venezuela where voters are still waiting to cast a ballot are staying open past the official closing time.
Voting centers were scheduled to shut down at 6 p.m. EDT but Venezuelan law requires them to stay open until all those in line at the closing have voted.
Both President Nicolas Maduro’s supporters and the opposition urged Venezuelans to vote in the final hours of the election.
Results will be closely watched to see whether the opposition gains a majority of the state’s 23 governor’s offices up for grabs — and just how much support President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist party maintains.
Observers will also be watching how many Venezuelans turn up to vote. Regional elections typically attract fewer voters, and some speculated that skeptical, disenchanted voters might stay home.
The head of Venezuela’s National Electoral Council says there have been few reports of irregularities in Sunday’s gubernatorial elections, despite several complaints by opposition leaders.
Pro-government council president Tibisay Lucena tells reporters that voting centers opened in record time and that problems with electricity and voting machines have been few and far between.
Opposition leader Henrique Capriles has presented a different picture.
He says 11,000 Venezuelans slated to cast ballots at one voting center in Miranda have been sent to a different site that does not have the capacity to handle such a large number.
Others are being relocated to sites that require voters to walk considerable distances, sometimes in unsafe areas.
The CNE relocated more than 200 voting centers, citing security concerns.
President Nicolas Maduro says in a newly released video that Venezuelans should vote in Sunday’s gubernatorial elections to show the nation has a “vigorous democracy.”
Hundreds have been lined up at some voting centers in Miranda, a state surrounding the nation’s capital. But other polling sites had very few people arriving to vote.
Polls indicate the opposition has a chance to gain the majority of governorships for the first time in nearly two decades of socialist government. But Maduro says they’ll still be subordinate to a pro-government assembly that is re-writing the constitution.
Opposition leaders complain the government-friendly National Electoral Council moved more than 200 voting centers at the last minute, and say several polling sites in opposition-dominant areas opened late.