Venezuela wraps up election polling
Updated: 2012-10-08 08:42
CARACAS - Venezuela's election authorities formally closed the polling in the country's presidential election at 6.51 p.m. local time on Sunday (2321 GMT), according to Tibisay Lucena Ramirez from the National Electoral Council (CNE).
"We want to thank everyone for a beautiful day, full of joy," she told a brief conference in a CNE facility. Not all polling stations have closed because "electoral law dictates that polling stations must stay open as long as there are voters in the queue, waiting to vote."
The election pits incumbent Hugo Chavez, representing the Great Democratic Pole coalition, against Henrique Capriles, who represents the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD). Chavez, who has been in power since February 1999, is seeking to extend his so- called "21st century socialism" project of greater nationalization and more rights for the poor. Capriles, who calls his position " progressive," says he is seeking to follow Brazil's centre-left example.
Lucena also called on electoral officials not to leave their posts until all their work had been done. After they close their doors to voters, they will choose a person amongst themselves to audit the votes, she said. "They have to stay there even though the polling stations are closed."
Some 19 million Venezuelans were entitled to vote in Sunday's elections, which began a 6.00 a.m. local time (1030 GMT).
Venezuelans are not obliged to vote, but many treated Election Day as a celebration.