Last Sunday, April 14th, Venezuela held the closest presidential elections of the last 40 years. The thin margin at the results, strong political campaign, the sharp political polarization of the country, and a clear advantage on the side of the government’s party (widely criticized by international organizations), has led the opposition to demand a recount of 100% of the vote receipts to compare this result with the official one released and announced by the National Electoral Council.
The technological platform, provided by Smartmatic, was examined, as has been tradition in the electoral timeline, with about 11 audits, all of them certified by the different political organizations. Aside from these technical audits, Venezuela holds another audit, this time performed by regular citizens on the night of the election. This inspection is publicly done on about 21,000 voting machines (more than half of the polling stations). In this test, it was confirmed that the electors’ intent printed on the vote receipts matched the counting protocol issued by the machine before the transmission of results.
In spite of all these technical guarantees, the opposing group demanded an audit of 100% of the polling stations, most probably based on allegations concerning the advantage of the government’s party. Fortunately, and thanks to the system’s capacity to verify results in multiple ways, the electoral body approved the revision of 12,000 machines that were not included in the citizens’ verification on April 14th. The results of this last audit are estimated to be released in 4 weeks.
After 12 national elections since 2004, more than 100 audits in 9 years, and politicians from both sides winning and losing with the same voting machine, Venezuela is refusing to live in peace. The possibility to audit the announced results in different ways can be key to unravel the complex political and social crisis that is now emerging in the South American country.