Smartmatic and the Venezuela Electoral Fraud

Hector A. Barrios
Posted by
Sept. 4, 2017

[News item: “The official count of Venezuelans who participated in the election of an all-powerful constituent assembly was tampered with – off by at least 1 million votes – the head of a voting technology company asserted …… Smartmatic CEO Antonio Mugica said results recorded by his system and those reported by Venezuela’s National Electoral Council indicate “without any doubt” that the official turnout figure of more than 8 million voters was manipulated. …. “Even in moments of deep political conflict and division we have been satisfied with the voting process and the count has been completely accurate.” Mugica told reporters ….”It is therefore with the deepest regret that we have to report that the turnout figures on Sunday, 30 July, for the constituent assembly in Venezuela were tampered with.”  From PDI, p. A15, August 4, 2017]

A Smart marketing move but risky

This press statement is a great defensive move on Smartmatic’s part to avert suspicion that it had something to do with the alleged Venezuelan election fraud. It puts Smartmatic on the side of the critics and away from the election authorities, a shift made not a moment too soon as domestic and international furor about the improbable poll results were already rising.

The press statement also does a good job of giving the impression that Smartmatic’s voting system must be reliable because data manipulation can be detected, that its dealings with election authorities are completely above board so it can afford to expose irregularities, and that it has the stature to oversee and make august pronouncements about the conduct and results of the elections. One can say that this press statement is a great “defense-offense” move.

Filipinos, however, will be somewhat bemused. If Smartmatic is credible in its assessment of the Venezuelan election, is it equally credible in its assessment of the Philippine elections in which its system was used? And if Smartmatic had the means to know that the Venezuelan election was manipulated, did it have as much capability in the case of the Philippine elections? Finally, how did it detect the manipulation?

A smart move marketing-wise, this press statement is also risky as it opens up the question of Smartmatic’s role in the elections. As it points a finger at the Venezuelan government, other fingers are pointing back. 

How could Smartmatic discern data manipulation?

What exactly was Smartmatic’s role in the election? It was the vendor of the computerized system that was used, but vendors are not involved in the operation of a system. Was it also the authorized operator? But operators only run the system, they are not privy to the data that flows through it. If Smartmatic discerned data manipulation, then it must have had access to data, and not only that, it must have had the means to distinguish right from wrong data.  How so?

Actually, these questions are, more than anything else, rhetorical. Smartmatic’s statement that it discerned data manipulation in the Venezuelan election is a finger that points to its inordinate role and invisible relationship with election officials. Venezuelans would be well-advised to check it out.

Another finger points to a serious flaw in the design of the Smartmatic system. A system that allows non-users access to the data is a faulty system. It makes the system open to acts or processes not intended by the user, never mind hacking or intrusion. Philippine election officials are well-advised to check out our own system. It’s a good bet that they will find the same defect. Posted by CenPEG

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