CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuela's election body says more than 8 million people voted to grant President Nicolas Maduro's ruling socialist party virtually unlimited powers with a constitutional assembly — a turnout more than double the estimates of the government's political opponents and independent experts.
National Electoral Council president Tibisay Lucena announced just before midnight that turnout in Sunday's vote was 41.53 percent, or 8,089,320 people.
Enraged opposition members mocked the result and said they believed between 2 million and 3 million people voted. One well-respected independent analysis said 3.6 million appeared to have voted.
The electoral council's counts in the past have been seen as reliable and generally accurate, but Sunday's announcement appeared certain to escalate the polarization and political conflict paralyzing the country.