Latin American Program in the News: The well-greased vote machine Chavez left

The Sacramento Bee

Apr 15, 2013
By

Across the nation, government vehicles cruise streets blasting salsa music and distributing campaign literature. Campaign billboards festoon the roofs of government buildings.

The vote-impelling army officially numbers 200,000, but with nearly 2.7 million state employees is likely far higher. In October, it helped raise voter turnout to an impressive 81 percent from 75 percent in Chavez's 2006 presidential victory.

Cynthia Arnson of the Woodrow Wilson think tank in Washington, D.C., calls the ruling socialists' get-out-the-vote efforts atypical for a democracy.

"Maduro can draw on a Chavista base that has received huge benefits from the state and can be mobilized quickly, and there has been a complete blurring of the resources of the state with the resources of the campaign," she said. "It's not just the party machine. It's the entire apparatus of the state than can be deployed."

The grassroots Chavista get-out-the vote structure is called "One for 10:" Participants are responsible for getting 10 people to the polls.

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