The Venezuelan legislative elections of September 26th have deepened the country’s political polarization. As in every voting process, the different political aspirations generate all sorts of theories on the e-voting system used since 2004; in most cases, these come from politicians trying to gain notoriety with the electorate.
This time, the company behind the automation of Venezuelan elections, Smartmatic, has been under crossfire, questioned about matters unrelated to what is truly substantial (i.e. the e-voting system itself); instead, these matters are meant to fuel rumours and electoral myths. These apparently are aimed to curtail the opposition’s voter turnout, given they essentially try to link the company with the government party.
- Smartmatic and the Venezuelan government
The link between Smartmatic and the Venezuelan government is unsubstantiated. The SCB Consortium, formed by Smartmatic, Cantv and Bizta R&D Software, won the bid to implement an e-voting project in the country. Bizta then got a loan from Foncrei, an official financing organism, which led to the belief that all three companies were associated with the government. The truth is that these companies partnered with one another to maximize their strengths and win the bid.
Bitza was a software company that had partnered with Smartmatic at the time of the bid, and that was acquired by the latter in 2005. The loan Bizta received from Foncrei was for about $150k at the exchange rate of the time, while the Consortium was bidding for a contract worth over 100 million dollars.
- Relationship with Jorge Rodríguez
Given that Jorge Rodríguez was the president of the National Electoral Board when the bid for the e-voting system took place, his name has been frequently linked to Smartmatic’s. However, he has never been a part of the company, which has been in the hands of Antonio Mugica (CEO) and Roger Piñate (COO) since its foundation in 2000.
This rumour stems from an alleged trip paid by Smartmatic that Rodríguez took to become acquainted with a new voting machine model. Under both US and Venezuelan law, corporations have the right to pay for demonstrations of their products (travels and events), and this includes inviting government officials. The company explained that Rodríguez later reimbursed his expenses.
- Relationship with Moisés Maionica
There is none. This lawyer, implicated in the 2007 suitcase scandal, was never on the company’s payroll. Since he represented Cogent, another supplier to the National Electoral Council, people have tried to link him to the company. In an official statement, the company made clear that its legal representation at the time was Greenberg and Traurig in Miami, and Mendoza, Palacios, Acedo, Borjas, Páez Pumar & Cía. In Caracas.
- Then, how come the government always wins since Smartmatic was hired?
The electoral processes carried out during the last six years show that both the government and the opposition win in Venezuela, and this has nothing to do with e-voting but with the preferences of the electorate. Elections undergo 14 different audits, and to date, the manual count performed at the end of each process (in 54% of the machines), has shown absolute agreement between the audit and the automated count.