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Venezuelan Poll 'Tampered With,' Says Voting System Company

Venezuelan Bolivarian Army soldiers lineup to vote on the creation of a new assembly on Sunday.
Ariana Cubillos
Venezuelan Bolivarian Army soldiers lineup to vote on the creation of a new assembly on Sunday.

The results of Venezuela's controversial vote to create a new legislature and give President Nicolas Maduro broad authoritarian powers were "tampered with," to change turnout figures, according to the CEO of the firm that provided the election system.

The news may support opposition charges that the results were inflated to add credibility to the vote, which established a National Constituent Assembly beholden to Maduro.

Speaking at a news briefing in London, Smartmatic CEO Antonio Mugica said the results of Sunday's poll were off by at least one million.

"We know, without any doubt, that the turnout of the recent election for a National Constituent Assembly was manipulated," Mugica told reporters.

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

"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," he said.

Mugica said the company has recorded the correct figure, but would wait to release that information until a full audit is carried out.

Smartmatic, which produces electronic voting machines, started in Venezuela during the tenure of the late President Hugo Chavez. Since then, it has gone global and now serves elections in Venezuela and several other countries.

In a further statement on the company's website, Smartmatic says that the system used in Venezuela is "tamper evident."

"[It] self-reports any attempt to interfere with it. This means that the system is designed to protect the votes from any manipulation and to immediately identify and alert of such an attempt," the company says.

Venezuela's opposition and the White House have condemned the poll as a "sham election." NPR's Philip Reeves, reporting from Caracas Monday, saying that: "The election council - the electoral council in Venezuela claims that 42 percent voted. That's just over 8 million people. This is being met with derision, particularly by the opposition that says the number was closer to 2 to 3 million people."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.