LONDON – The voter turnout figures for a controversial government-backed election that took place in Venezuela over the weekend were manipulated, with totals boosted by at least a million, the CEO of the electronic voting company in charge of the count denounced on Wednesday.
Venezuelan authorities had put the turnout for the election to appoint a National Constituent Assembly, which has the power to alter the constitution, at around 8.1 million voters, but this was challenged by Antonio Mugica, head of Smartmatic, at a press conference in London.
“We know, without any doubt, that the turnout of the recent election for a National Constituent Assembly was manipulated,” Murgica said, adding that the company estimates that the figures were tweaked by at least a million votes and that an inquiry would provide exact details.
Smartmatic has worked with Venezuela’s voting system since 2004 and worked with the voting process in Sunday’s controversial government election to appoint members of an assembly to change the country’s constitution, a move boycotted by the opposition.
Furthermore, there were no opposition auditors to witness the voting process, casting further doubt on a ballot that has already been declared illegitimate by the United States and the European Union.
The establishment of the National Constituent Assembly stirred fears among the opposition that President Nicolas Maduro was trying to gain an authoritarian rule over the South American country.
Opposition activists from the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), a large political party, were planning a protest against the National Constituent Assembly on Thursday.
Violent street protests have consumed Venezuela for months, and clashes occurring on a daily basis, leaving scored dead.
Maduro has criticized protesters and accused them of attempting a coup d’état but his opponents claim the president is trying to create a dictatorship.