Update (Monday 1:55 AM): For the final update to this post we leave you with two differing views of tonight's election results. First are comments from a sympathizer of President-elect Nicolás Maduro in Caracas:
"This is an important triumph for the future of the country. It's the legacy of our commander who isn't hear anymore but Maduro is here and he will defend the process," said 29-year-old Rafael Pérez who was celebrating the electoral victory outside of the Miraflores presidential residence.In contrast to Pérez is the opinion of a Venezuelan expat who backed opposition rival Henrique Capriles:
"It's gone very quiet," Becky Prado, 34, a schoolteacher on one of the buses returning to Miami from New Orleans, said shortly after the result was announced early Monday morning. "We just feel helpless. I can hear people sobbing."Update (Monday 1:15 AM): Opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles refused to recognize the results of Sunday's election until all the votes are counted "one by one".
"The voice of the people is sacred," said a combative Capriles who alleged that the opposition's unofficial vote count differs from that of the Venezuelan electoral council.
Capriles said that he spoke with President-elect Nicolás Maduro on Sunday night but denied allegations made by Maduro claiming that he wanted to make a political pact with him.
"I don't make pacts with those who lie and are corrupt...If (Maduro) was not the legitimate president before then today he is more illegitimate" said Capriles at a press conference from the opposition coalition headquarters.
"This country is like a sand castle that is about to fall as soon as it's touched," proclaimed Capriles who also denounced "3200 irregularities during the electoral process."
Update (Monday 12:40 AM): President-elect Nicolás Maduro proclaimed his electoral triumph as "just, legal and constitutional."
At a rally in front of the Miraflores presidential palace, Maduro claimed that he spoke by phone with defeated rival Henrique Capriles and "he presented his vision to me while he transmitted my truth (to him."
"We must continue the path towards socialism to correct the perverse effects of capitalism," added Maduro.
"Open the ballot boxes. I have nothing to fear," declared Maduro after the opposition's lone representative on Venezuela's electoral board called for a recount of all the votes due to the razor-thin 1.59% margin of victory.
Capriles is expected to soon speak publicly and provide his reaction to losing his second presidential election in the past six months.
Update (11:55 PM): Interim leader Nicolás Maduro was declared by Venezuelan electoral authorities as winner of the country's presidential elections.
Venezuelan electoral board chief Tibisay Lucena declared that with 99% of the votes counted Maduro won 50.66%-49.07% over main opposition candidate Henrique Capriles. The razor-thin margin of victory represented approximately 250,000 of the roughly 15 million total votes according to Lucena.
Over 78% of the electorate participated that in the election that decided the successor of the late Hugo Chávez.
Lucena proclaimed the results as irreversible and also thanked the Venezuelan people for participating "peacefully" in Sunday's election.
Update (11:00 PM): Nicolás Maduro may have won Sunday's presidential election according to an unofficial exit poll.
The poll from International Services Consulting gives the former Vice President and Foreign Minister a 54%-46% victory over opposition candidate Henrique Capriles.
Recent polls indicated that Maduro has double-digit but shrinking leads over the Miranda governor. A Datanalisis poll conducted earlier this month, for instance, gave Maduro a 55%-45% lead, which is smaller than a 14-point gap in another poll by the same firm taken shortly after ex-President Hugo Chávez passed away last month.
Venezuela's electoral board cannot provide preliminary results of the elections until there's an "irreversible trend" favoring one of the candidates. The delay in the publication of those results could mean that the election is too close to definitively call.
The tense wait for the electoral results has reportedly led to the increased use of the Twitter hashtag #TibisayTeEstamosEsperando, which roughly translates to #WeAreWaitingForYouTibisay. (Tibisay Lucena is the president of the Venezuelan electoral commission).
Update (10:10 PM): While the wait continues for the preliminary results of today's presidential elections, main opposition candidate Henrique Capriles warned of the possibility of electoral fraud.
"We alert the country and the world of the intention to try and change the will expressed by the people," said Capriles in his Twitter account.
Jorge Rodríguez, the head of interim leader Nicolás Maduro's campaign, criticized Capriles and urged Maduro followers to gather at the Miraflores presidential residence in Caracas.
Allegations of electoral regularities continue to be reported via social networking as well as the Venezuelan press. According to the website for El Universal, for instance, prospective voters were reportedly shutout from a Caracas voting precinct by security forces at the closing time of 6:00 PM local time. (The Vice President of Venezuela's electoral board mentioned that those people on line waiting to vote should be allowed to exercise their right even if they're on line at the time of closing).
Original Post: Will interim leader Nicolás Maduro or opposition candidate Henrique Capriles win Sunday's presidential elections? This is the question on the minds of Venezuelans who await the results today's vital vote.
Nearly nineteen million eligible voters had the chance to participate in the country's presidential elections and choose the successor of the late Hugo Chávez.
"We're going to elect Maduro president because he's following the path set by Chavez," Morelia Roa, a 58-year-old nurse, said to Reuters after casting her ballot in the same working class Caracas district where Maduro voted.
"The country is a mess...It's time to forget Chavez and create a new Venezuela outside of his shadow," said Alberto Gomez, a 55-year-old bakery owner, after voting in an upscale district of Caracas.
Several Twitter users claimed that some election centers in areas like Caracas closed even though people had been waiting to vote while others alleged intimidation by Maduro backers.
Election Day was relatively calm and free of the political violence that took place in the past few weeks according to law enforcement officials. The chief in charge of implementing national security on Sunday admitted that forty-three people were arrested nationwide.
Capriles and Maduro separately exercised their right to vote on Sunday morning though they both launched jabs against one another.
"The voter avalanche is coming,"declared the Miranda governor as he exercised his right to vote on Sunday afternoon. The candidate who was defeated by Chávez in last October's presidential race also mentioned that "today's winners are the Venezuelan people".
Maduro, meanwhile, praised his followers for "breaking voting records throughout the nation". He also said that he will present on Monday "direct evidence" of a "conspiracy" against him by the U.S. military.
Multitudes of Venezuelan expats in Europe and throughout the Americas made it to the polls including hundreds living in southern Florida who travelled to New Orleans:
"We have to vote. If it means waiting under the rain, we will," said Elba Luisa Bolet, 63, as she waited to board a flight to New Orleans at the Miami International Airport Sunday...
In 2012, the Venezuelan government ordered the closing of its Miami consulate forcing the 20,000 voters registered there to travel to New Orleans if they wish to vote. In October, more than 9,000 headed by car, buses and planes to participate...
"Nothing is going to stop us. We are doing this because we love our country", said Jesus Santiago Figueras, 27, before boarding his flight.Opposition activists denounced several cases of supposed voter fraud by Chavez sympathizers such as illegally helped voters that are not disabled or elderly. The government did acknowledge some irregularities but claimed that the opposition were exaggerating in their claims.
Shortly before the polls closed, the Venezuelan government revealed that the official twitter accounts of Maduro and the ruling Socialist Party were hacked. As a result, Internet coverage in Venezuela was briefly halted by authorities in the evening.
Video Source - CNN
Partial List of Online Sources - BBC Mundo; El Universal (Venezuela); RCN Radio; BBC News; NBC News