Evidence of an electoral fraud is growing The ONLY exit poll that agreed with the results is the one overseen by Carter. Something is very fishy. Carter is a f*cking snake I'm tell'n ya! Chávez and the vote CARACAS The perception that a massive electronic fraud led to President Hugo Chávez's mandate not being cut short in the recall referendum on Sunday is rapidly gaining ground in Venezuela. All exit polls carried out on the day had given the opposition an advantage of between 12 percent and 19 percent. But preliminary results announced by the government-controlled National Electoral Council at 3:30 a.m. gave Chávez 58.2 percent of the vote, against 41.7 percent for the opposition. . At first people scratched their heads in disbelief, including many Chávez supporters, but accepted these figures after César Gaviria, secretary general of the Organization of American States, and former President Jimmy Carter said their own quick counts coincided with the electoral council's figures. Two days after the referendum, however, evidence is growing that the software of the touch-screen voting machines had been tampered with. The opposition has requested that the votes be recounted manually and that the boxes holding the voting papers, currently stored in army garrisons, be put under the custody of international observers. . Chávez had to be dragged kicking and screaming into holding the presidential recall referendum, even though it had been provided for by his Constitution. He was conscious that two-thirds of the people opposed his Cuban-inspired "revolutionary project" and his autocratic, aggressive style. . Two petitions were necessary to overcome the electoral council's tricks and delaying tactics. After the second petition was declared valid, under strong national and international pressure, and after having poured billions of dollars into social programs, Chávez accepted that the referendum be held Aug. 15. . The electoral council has stated that the voting machines were audited after the vote, but the council did so in the absence of any opposition representative or any international observer. A cause for even greater concern is the fact that the papers the new machines produced confirming the voter's choice - which the voter had to verify and then drop into a closed box - were not added up and compared with the final numbers these machines produce at the end of the voting process, as the voting-machine manufacturer had suggested. . Evidence of foul play has surfaced. In the town of Valle de la Pascua, where papers were counted at the initiative of those manning the voting center, the Yes vote had been cut by more than 75 percent, and the entire voting material was seized by the national guard shortly after the difference was established. . Three machines in a voting center in the state of Bolivar that has generally voted against Chávez all showed the same 133 votes for the Yes option, and higher numbers for the No option. Two other machines registered 126 Yes votes and much higher votes for the No. The opposition alleges that these machines, which can both send and receive information, were reprogrammed to start adjudicating all votes to the No option after a given number of Yes votes has been registered. . Although the Organization of American States and the Carter Center have called the election free and fair, their quick count justifying this statement was also based only on the numbers provided by the voting machines. The two organizations had brokered an agreement to examine, in the presence of government and opposition representatives, a sample of 150 voting points chosen at random. A comparison of the results printed out by these machines with the papers contained in the corresponding boxes was to be concluded this week. But the opposition now wants all machines and ballot boxes to be examined. . This is not just another election in a country where political actors abide by democratic rules and civilized behavior. It is an election where a choice of society is being made, and where one side is prepared to use any method to remain in power, even elections if it is assured of "winning" them. . Enrique ter Horst, a Venezuelan national, is a lawyer and political analyst in Caracas. A former assistant secretary general of the United Nations, he headed the UN peacekeeping operations in El Salvador and Haiti, and was the UN Deputy High Commissioner of Human Rights.