The CEO of the voting technology company Smartmatic said Wednesday that results of Venezuela’s election for an all-powerful constituent assembly were off by at least 1 million votes.
Antonio Mugica said results recorded by his systems and those reported by Venezuela’s National Electoral Council indicate “without any doubt” that official turnout figures were inflated.
Smartmatic was created by Venezuelans and began providing electronic voting machines in 2004 during the presidency of the late Hugo Chavez.
“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 in London. “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.”
President Nicolas Maduro’s government announced late Sunday that more than 8 million Venezuelans had participated in the election for constituent assembly that will be granted virtually unlimited powers. His count was put into question by at least one independent exit poll, showing turnout was less than half that number.
The claim is certain to fuel further discord over the assembly, which Maduro has vowed to utilize to target his foes. Opposition leaders boycotted the election, arguing voting terms were rigged to favor the ruling socialist party. Nearly 7.6 million people voted in a symbolic referendum rejecting the assembly two weeks before the vote.
The assembly is expected to be sworn into office Thursday and the opposition is calling on Venezuelans to protest.
On Monday, two prominent opposition leaders were dragged from their homes by heavily armed security agents and thrown in a military prison Tuesday, drawing condemnation from the United States and some Latin American countries. But many other nations and international organizations were silent or limited themselves to expressions of concern.