Americas, Venezuela, Human Rights, Politics

Venezuela: Smartmatic Revealed Electoral Fraud

Smartmatic is a Venezuelan company that offers electronic voting services in The United States, Barbados, Brazil, Africa, Belgium, Ecuador, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Venezuela, Panamá, The United Kingdom, The Netherlands, The Philippines and Taiwan. They work with different technology solutions such as identity management, smart city solutions, and electronic voting systems. They have been managing elections in Venezuela since 2004 and have been rapidly growing since then.

In 2004, they applied to be in charge of the presidential referendum that was going to be held that year. Elections Systems & Software, an American Company, and Indra, a Spanish company, had also applied and despite having much more expertise and experience in the matter of national voting systems, Smartmatic won the opportunity to carry out the 2004 elections in Venezuela.

Shady Business

Apparently, there were some dark links between the owners of the company and the Venezuelan government, and these were the real reasons behind the decision of choosing Smartmatic and not the other two foreign companies.

After the elections some irregularities were found since the network used was bi-directional, it was possible to transfer data both ways between the devices and CANTV, the state-run telecommunications company. In 2006, 2011 and 2016, various articles concluded that “it was likely that electronic fraud was committed”.

By 2005, citizens did not trust the system anymore, it had been hacked, and finger print recognition had been installed in the voting centers. They were told that the system would randomize the order of the voters so that there would be no possibility to know who voted. But there were rumors of technicians that could hack the system and reorganize the voters. Besides, having a fingerprint scanner just before voting does not give you any sense of secrecy in the process.

Most Venezuelans don’t believe in the electronic voting system offered by this company, nor that our vote is secret. The people in charge of the institutions have openly identified themselves as pro-government, and their actions are always inclined to support that side. Where do you turn to if you don’t trust the institutions?

Electoral Fraud

Why would such a company keep managing the elections of a country after having so many irregularities reported? Because this is the way, dictatorships work.

The only way for international partners to tolerate unfair governments is under the hat of “Democratically elected, therefore legitimate“. President Trump said recently that the US does not agree with some of Maduro’s decisions, but they respect the government because it was democratically elected.

A few days ago Smartmatic CEO, Antonio Mujica, declared in a press conference in London that the numbers in the last Venezuelan elections were altered. He said that they could not guarantee the results in the Constituent National Assembly and that the numbers given by the system were not the ones given later by the government. Electoral fraud! The difference was at least a million votes.

After such catastrophic revelation, everybody expected big changes, big movements, big decisions. But here in Venezuela, the country where everything is possible, it was just some minor news on Wednesday. Electoral fraud doesn’t make the news anymore. The government has quickly sworn the members of the Constituent Assembly in, and so far they have dismissed the Attorney General (who has recently shown strong opposition to the government).

General Secretary of the OAS said that electoral fraud had been confirmed in Venezuela. On August the 3rd Almagro also stated that Venezuela would not be invited to the next meeting in Colombia in October because of the evident electoral fraud.

Sanctions Against the Government

Mercosur, which was previously careful with statements and reports, has now suspended Venezuela for the time being. They realized (a little too late in my opinion) that the democratic line of power in Venezuela is broken. Besides suspending the country, Mercosur promises to work for the reestablishment of democracy in Venezuela. The very same day the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Mercosur’s decision was illegal because it was based on false information and assumptions, saying that Venezuela would not recognize it (what are you going to do Delsy? You cannot invite yourself back to the party!)

After the results of the popular referendum on July 16th were revealed (7 million against the CNA) I knew the government needed a bigger number in their elections. By 5 pm on the day of the elections of the Constituent National Assembly, Routers said the government had already around 3 million votes. And voila, magic, by the time they finished (two hours later) they claimed to have 8 million people voting in favor. Come on! Give me a break. If that does not sound like electoral fraud, nothing does.

It is physically impossible for 5 million people to vote in a two hour period. Two days later Smartmatic revealed the numbers have been changed, and of course, they say this after all managers had left the country and offices had been closed. Afraid?

Is it too Late?

But nothing stopped the government from swearing in the members of the assembly, and now we have Delsy Rodriguez (former Ministry of Foreign Affairs) as the president of it. The best part is yet to come, this woman, according to the law, has more power now than all Venezuelan institutions. The law says that the established institutions cannot stop the decisions of the Constituent National Assembly.

President Maduro said the 2018 elections would depend on what will be able to be set up with this new constitution. They can rewrite the country as they wish and nothing can stop them.

So, the show must go on: ¡Viva la revolución, carajo!

About Isabel Matos

Isabel is a Venezuelan translator that struggles to find a voice and to prosper in today’s political turmoil and tension. She is also an undergraduate English teacher and is currently pursuing a Master’s in English as a Foreign Language. Translator, teacher and always student, she is interested in how language shapes reality and how women and men negotiate power through discourse.

All Articles