London, Aug 2 (IANS) Turnout figures in Venezuelas Constituent Assembly elections were manipulated by at least one million votes, according to a company that has worked with the country on its voting system since 2004.
Venezuela’s electoral authorities said more than eight million people voted in the elections for a new Constituent Assembly on Sunday, BBC reported. But the Chief Executive of Smartmatic, Antonio Mugica, said the actual turnout differed by at least one million.
During the vote, Venezuelans were asked to select more than 500 representatives to make up a Constituent Assembly.
President Nicolás Maduro argued the Constituent Assembly would rewrite the Constitution and promote “reconciliation and peace” after months of political and economic crisis.
But the opposition, which boycotted the vote, saw it as a power grab by the President.
“It is with the deepest regret that we have to report that the turnout numbers on Sunday 30th July for the Constituent Assembly in Venezuela were tampered with,” Mugica told a media conference in London.
“We estimate the difference between the actual participation and the one announced by authorities is at least 1 million votes,” he said.
Mugica said Smartmatic, which has provided electronic voting technology for elections around the world, was able to detect the overstated officially announced turnout because of Venezuela’s automated election system.
When asked why he had not contacted the Venezuelan authorities, Mugica said he thought they “would not be sympathetic to what we’d say”.
Smartmatic provided about 24,000 machines for Venezuelans to cast their votes electronically, the BBC said. According to the company, their system supplied correct voting statistics but altered results were announced in their place.
The Venezuelan opposition has also said the figures were inflated. Electoral Council President Tibisay Lucena put the turnout at 41.53 per cent, or 8,089,320 people, but members of the opposition said they believed between 2 million and 3 million people had voted and one well-respected independent analysis put the figure at 3.6 million, the Guardian reported.
The vote for the assembly was boycotted by the opposition and has been criticised around the world as an assault on democratic freedoms.