I Am Voting No, But I Will Also Watch Over My Vote

The bill to reform the Cuban Constitution has been debated for months and will be voted on in a referendum in 2019. (EFE / Ernesto Mastrascusa)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Pedro Pablo Aguilera, Cali (Colombia), 3 January 2019 – After reading the article by Reinaldo Escobar, Is Fraud Possible February 24 Referendum? in 14ymedio, I feel it is more like a call to warn about a smokescreen of abstainers as a pretext to demobilize the negative vote that others advocate. I clarify: Reinaldo Escobar is convinced people should vote ’No’. That is to say, the Cuban opposition is divided again and it will be necessary to see who plays.

The truth is that voting ’No’ does not only not ratify the Constitution, it is a public rejection of the system, and all that means. It will be a petition for real change in the first chance that the system has mistakenly given voters the opportunity of a direct vote. The government has been overconfident and, as happened in Britain with the Brexit, in the US with Trump and in Colombia with the referendum of ratification of the Peace Accords, there may be an unexpected result.

The result of this latent division before the referendum will favor, without a doubt only the Government, which is already saying that voting ’No’ is an attitude of the enemy as if that option were not among those that they established themselves on the referendum ballot.

I am convinced, as are many others, to vote ’No’. It is the only clear path, it is the only thing that will make the rejection evident and it is even less risky in the face of the strong mechanisms of pressure and control of the Cuban electoral system. It is unlike an ambiguous abstention in which a person who may be sick, or traveling or clueless will join the “abstainer-on-purpose.” In addition, abstentions will not count towards the result, since those that will decide the outcome are the so-called valid votes.

The negative vote, voting ’No’, is easy, silent, and simple. Mark ’No’ on your ballot consistent with your thinking for the thousand and one reasons there are to do so.

Now, there is only one option for combatting fraud: Watching over the votes. And it is done with civility, with tranquility and respect, adhering to the current Cuban electoral rules.

It is necessary to know the rule, Law 72, where the rights and duties at the moment of the counting ballots are codified and by paying special attention to the Third Section, regarding the scrutiny in the polling stations.

This, in short, recognizes the right of citizens who wish to be present in the process of vote counting according to Article 112. In this process one must be very clear about the rules, rights and duties so as to not incur grounds for exclusion, such as those provided in article 171 regarding the alteration or destruction of printed materials or voting rolls.

It would be ideal to have one or two individuals, who in practice would be citizen observers, in each voting center or, at least in the largest of each municipality, who would oversee the electoral process by documenting via audio or video each table of poll workers.

Such a process, so common in the world, in the Cuban case gives an opening that we can use, but will require national or regional organization with national counting centers for monitoring, all within the limits established by Cuban law, since there will be many pretexts to avoid or block such access.

The fear is so great that there will be no lack of initiatives from the powerful to avoid the due compliance with the law, but that will be a violation of the rules of the alleged “socialist state of law.”

As such I think it is possible to protect the vote, but more important is the pedagogy of going to vote without anulling it, leaving it blank or abstaining. Vote and vote ’No’.

Thus, the results will be clearer and the false unanimity will at least be questioned, since we know that Cuba lacks an organized, committed and ethically responsible civil society.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria


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