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  • Residents of Barinas state assembled early to vote.

    Residents of Barinas state assembled early to vote. | Photo: VTV

Published 15 October 2017

 "It is not the United States that determines the faith of Venezuela, but the people. We came to seal our commitment to the Constitution."

Polls are open for the Venezuela's regional elections, in which 23 governorships will be contested. About 18 million people are eligible to vote at the 13,559 polling stations nationwide.

RELATED:

Why Are Venezuela's Regional Elections So Crucial?

The opposition is fielding candidates in all of the country's 23 states. Politicians connected with the Socialist Party of Venezuela, or Psuv, currently hold 20 of the governorships.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro posted a message of peace and democracy across the governorships.

Vice President Tareck El Aissami, who voted in the state of Aragua, said the process is a dignified response to interventionism.

"We are ratifying once again the democratic vocation of the people," he said, in an interview at the poll. "It is not the United States that determines the fate of Venezuela, but the people. We came to seal our commitment to the Constitution."

The VP added that "It has to be a historical process again."

Head of the electoral council, Tibisay Lucena, said voting is off to a smooth start. Lucena added that there is an 83 percent turnout in the state of Nueva Esparta and approximately 60 percent reported in others.

The National Electoral Council has relocated 274 voting stations in areas which had been affected by an outbreak of violence earlier this year in which 100 people lost their lives.

The ceremonial Toque de la Diana was performed in anticipation of the opening of the polls.

 Voters have been lined up before the polls open.

Hundreds of prosecutors have been deployed to oversee any irregularities. One international observer, Gloria Flores, from Colombia is among 2,000 officials dispatched to ensure transparency in the voting process.

International guests who are in Venezuela for the vote, have presented a preliminary report acknowledging the reliability of the system used by the National Electoral Council, CNE.

At a news conference on Saturday, Guillermo Reyes, Colombia's electoral representative and member of the Council of Electoral Experts of Latin America, CEELA, highlighted the political participation of all sectors in Venezuela with their technical delegates in the audits.

A polling station being prepared in Táchira, western Venezuela. 
Polling station in Táchira, western Venezuela 
Polling station in Táchira, western Venezuela 

Reyes also referred to the country's electronic voting system which is considered the most modern in Latin America.

"When technological innovations are incorporated ... higher levels of efficiency and reliability are generated," he said.

He went on to say that the exclusion of around 17 thousand people from the Electoral Register, according to a provision of the Administrative Service of Identification, Migration and Aliens, had been caused by problems with their nationalization.

The international guests said the figure corresponds to less than 0.1 percent of Venezuela's voters, which would have no effect on the electoral result.

The ballot is the second this year after July's National Constituent Assembly elections.

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