CARACAS -- Not even Smartmatic, the company that provides the government of Nicolas Maduro with the software and hardware for Sunday’s Constituent Assembly’s elections, believed the results declared by the CNE electoral body, as claims of fraud kept piling up Wednesday.
This is the first time ever, that Smartmatic -- which has been providing the electoral machinery since 2004 --has contradicted the CNE electoral board in Venezuela.
“The participation data for the Constituent Assembly election was manipulated,” Antonio Mugica, Smartmatic’s CEO said in a statement issued in London Wednesday morning. Smartmatic has provided the software and hardware for every Venezuelan election since 2004, including the 2004 recall referendum against Chavez, (which Hugo Chavez won), the 2006 reelection (which Hugo Chavez won), the 2012 Presidential elections (which Chavez also won, handily) and the 2013 Presidential elections, which Nicolas Maduro, Chavez’s handpicked successor also won, narrowly.
“We estimate that the difference between the amount (of voters) announced and the one the system shows is of at least one million voters,” the statement reads near its end. In the final lines, even Smartmatic criticizes how the CNE organized this particular election: “it is important to point out to the fact that this would not have happened if auditors from all political parties would have been present in the different phases of the election.”
The CNE electoral board said Sunday night more than 8 million people had voted for Constituent Assembly delegates that will have unlimited ruling powers and write a new Constitution. The delegates had been expected to take their seats Thursday, but in a surprise move Wednesday evening, Maduro moved the start to 11 am on Friday -- in the same building where the current opposition dominated National Assembly sits.
The opposition said Sunday that just 2.5 million voters had taken part in the election.
Before the election, Datanalisis, the largest polling firm in Venezuela, predicted that at best 3 million voters would take part in the election. Sunday’s grossly exaggerated fraudulent announced result didn't jive with the downward spiral in pro-Maduro votes evidenced in the 2015 legislative elections, when government candidates only obtained 5.6 million votes with opposition candidates about 2 million votes higher.
As Smartmatic pointed out, the CNE relaxed the auditing controls for this crucial election doing away with 14 different controls, including indelible ink, opposition witnesses, international observers, physical (paper) ballots, etc.
Candidates were chosen from groups affiliated with the government of Nicolas Maduro and government supporters were given extra votes in their occupational areas. In addition, the media and opposition poll watchers were kept away by force, at least 500 meters from voting centers.
The only major electoral contest the opposition has won under Smartmatic’s 13-year reign is the 2015 legislative elections.
Even Andres Izarra, a cabinet minister for Chavez, criticized Sunday’s elections, tweeting: “Smartmatic confirms there was a trap in the (Constituent) election.”