Update (12:45 AM): President Hugo Chavez celebrated his victory in front of a multitude of jubilant Chavistas who outside the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas.
"Today the Venezuelan people achieved a perfect victory", declared Chavez after being elected to a fourth term in office.
Chavez, who has held the presidency since 1998, vowed to act as a better leader "in order to accelerate a new cycle that will start the construction of a powerful Venezuela."
Chavez also called on the opposition to "get out of the mental state that has led you to reject all the good in Venezuela."
Not surprisingly Chavez supporters and Capriles backers had differing reactions to Sunday's presidential election.
"I'm celebrating with a big heart - Chavez is the hope of the people and of Latin America," said Chavez supporter Mary Reina to BBC News.
The reactions of proponents of Capriles in Miami included disappointment and anger according to ElNuevoHerald.com.
"We're denouncing an electoral fraud," proclaimed one upset expat while a community activist congratulated those who showed their "commitment to democracy" by voting in New Orleans.
According to The Guardian, Chavez may have to make some changes in order to gain support among the millions who backed Capriles:
(...) analysts say his reduced margin of victory - down from 26% in 2006 and 16% in 1998 may prompt changes in the cabinet and the government's policy, particularly with regard to public security and the economy. Health concerns are also likely to linger.Update (11:30 PM): Defeated candidate Henrique Capriles thanked the over six million voters who chose him and "who probably are feeling very sad now" but should also be "very proud" for their efforts.
"We have planted many seeds all over Venezuela. My dreams are the same dreams as millions of Venezuelans," said Capriles who will respect the electoral results.
Capriles congratulated President Hugo Chavez for his victory yet warned Chavez that he needs to do more to improve Venezuela. "I hope that a project that has taken fourteen years understands that nearly half of the country disagrees with the government," said Capriles.
Chavez, meanwhile, has taken to Twitter in response to his electoral win. "My God thanks! Thanks to everyone!!" he said.
Update (10:45 PM): President Hugo Chavez won Sunday's presidential election according to Venezuelan electoral officials.
National Electoral Council president Tibisay Lucena announced moments ago at a press conference that Chavez was the victor with 54.43% (7,444,082 votes), which was ahead of main rival Henrique Capriles' 44.97% (6,151,544 votes).
Lucena mentioned that over 80% of registered voters participated in the elections and confirmed that the results are "irreversible."
Update (10:15 PM): According to CNN En Español the doors closed at the voting center in New Orleans where over 7000 Venezuelan expats participated in today's election.
The liveblog for Venezuelan daily El Nacional reported that at least 100 people, most of whom are elderly, didn't get the chance to vote at the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans despite the extended voting hours.
"Sources from the Voto Joven group in the United States claimed that they fought against Venezuelan auhorities over the past two hours to prevent the center's closing," according to El Nacional.
Some of the voters who participated in Louisiana traveled from as far away as south Florida where the Venezuelan consulate in Miami was controversially closed months ago.
It's unknown exactly how many of the approximately 100,000 registered Venezuelan voters residing abroad took part in Sunday's election. The Washington Post mentioned how "afternoon exit polls showed that about 1,600 had voted, with just a handful saying they had cast ballots for Chavez." The New York Times, meanwhile, noted claims by the Venezuelan Embassy in New York that 2487 people voted there.
The rule change made today by electoral officials to count ballots from Venezuela before those from international sites has led to unease among some expats in London, wrote Mariana Marvel in the Americas Quarterly blog:
This new measure is of concern to London electors since that means that votes will now not be counted until the early morning. Unless we can stay up all night watching the ballot boxes, the ballots may not be subjected to uninterrupted third-party oversight.
Therefore vote counters have decided to stay just outside the consulate to be ready for when the CNE permits the process to begin.
Update (8:45 PM): Closing time for Venezuela's presidential election was supposed to be nearly three hours ago. Yet electoral authorities are permitting some voters to place their ballot after the 6:00 PM deadline.
"At the end of this election day...voting centers will remain open as long as there are voters waiting on line," said National Electoral Council president Tibisay Lucena. She also congratulated Venezuelans for a "magnificent election day that will help decide the country's destiny."
President Hugo Chavez moments ago called for "calm and patience" in anticipation of the electoral results. In a phone call made to followers in Caracas, Chavez called on them to "face (the situation) maturely and with good faith."
"Once again Venezuelans have told the entire world and our country that there are no reasons or differences that will seperate us," declared Armando Briquet, the campaign chief for main opposition candidate Henrique Capriles. Though no official results have been given Briquet told the press that "the upcoming hours will be of happiness."
Original Post: Will Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez continue in power for another six-year term or will he be defeated by rival Henrique Capriles? The answer could come tonight as millions of Venezuelans are expected to participate in Sunday's presidential election.
Long lines of voters have reportedly been seen in voting centers nationwide like the one in the El Marques neighborhood of Caracas shown in the above video via Univision.
"I knew there was going to be a long queue," said one voter who brought his own chair to wait on a line according to BBC News.
Tens of thousands of Venezuelan expats in numerous international locations have also participated in today's election. Among those are several hundred residents from south Florida who traveled to New Orleans after the Venezuelan consulate in Miami was controversially closed in January.
The election has thus far been peaceful aside from the killing this morning of a voter waiting on line in Caracas. Furthermore, few electoral problems have been reported with the exception of the town of Tumero where the polls opened later than planned.
Several polls over the past few weeks have indicated that most voters prefer Chavez, who has held the presidency since 1998. Yet one poll taken in late September placed Capriles in a statistical tie with Chavez while other polls have shown that roughly 10% of voters were undecided.
Despite the country's political divisions both of the main candidates did not attack each other when heading to the polls this afternoon. "We'll respect the results, whatever they are," said Chavez after he cast his vote while Capriles joked, "today's election has been fun because it's between undefeated (candidates.)"
Preliminary results of today's election are supposed to be emitted tonight after the polls close at 6:00 PM local time. Nevertheless results could be delayed since electoral officials will permit potential voters on line at the time of closing to cast their vote.
Video Source - YouTube via Univision News, VOXXI,
Partial List of Online Sources (including Updates) - NBC News, El Universal, ABC News, BBC News, SFGate.com, Diario ABC Color, NOLA. com, Xinhua, El-Nacional.com, Venezuela Al Dia, New York Times, Sacramento Bee, Washington Post