Venezuela poll turnout figures manipulated: Voting firm

LONDON • Turnout figures in Venezuela's Constitutional Assembly election were manipulated by at least a million votes, said Smartmatic, a company that has worked with Venezuela on its voting system since 2004.

"We know, without any doubt, that the turnout of the recent election for a National Constituent Assembly was manipulated," Smartmatic chief executive Antonio Mugica said at a news briefing in London yesterday.

Mr Mugica said Smartmatic, which has provided electronic voting technology for elections around the world, was able to detect the overstated "officially announced" turnout because of Venezuela's automated election system.

"We estimate the difference between the actual participation and the one announced by the authorities is at least one million votes," he said.

Mr Mugica declined to directly answer whether the manipulated turnout numbers changed the result of the election, in which the authorities said 8.1 million people voted.

The election of the legislative superbody has been decried by critics as illegitimate and designed to give the unpopular government of President Nicolas Maduro powers to rewrite the Constitution and sideline the opposition-led Congress.

Mr Mugica said the authorities in Venezuela would likely not be sympathetic to his comments and that he had not yet passed the evidence to Venezuela's electoral council.

The National Electoral Council did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to internal electoral council data previously reviewed by Reuters, only 3.7 million people had voted by 5.30pm local time in Venezuela's election on Sunday.

The Venezuelan authorities did not respond to a request for comment on that reviewed data.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2017, with the headline 'Venezuela poll turnout figures manipulated: Voting firm'. Print Edition | Subscribe