Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro has been declared the winner of an election widely denounced as a "fraud foretold." According to figures released by the National Election Council, Maduro was elected to a second six-year term after winning around 68% of the vote, more than 40 points more than his nearest rival, Henri Falcon, the AP reports. Before the result was announced Sunday, US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan said the US would not recognize the election winner, reports Reuters. He said the US is considering oil sanctions on Venezuela, though Washington wants to target "corrupt regime officials," not "damage the country in a way that makes it difficult to repair after democracy is restored."
Maduro told supporters outside the presidential palace in Caracas that his "truly popular victory" had been achieved through an "impeccable electoral process," but Falcon and other critics said irregularities including widespread vote-buying made the results invalid and called for new elections, the Guardian reports. Reuters notes that after voting, residents of the crisis-stricken country were asked to scan their government-issued "fatherland cards"—which are required to claim benefits—at pro-Maduro tents near polling stations to qualify for a "prize" from the socialist leader. Officials said turnout out was 46.1%, down from 80% in 2013, though critics said even that number was inflated and the true figure was closer to 30%. (Read more Venezuela stories.)