Venezuela stands by election count despite fraud allegation
Venezuela’s president rejected accusations on Aug. 2 that his government inflated turnout figures from its constituent assembly election, branding them part of an effort to stain what he called a clean and transparent vote.
The company that provides the country’s voting machines said that the government’s claim that 8.1 million votes were cast in July 30’s poll overestimated the tally by least 1 million.
President Nicolas Maduro also criticized the accuracy of a story reported by Reuters that only 3.7 million people had voted by 5:30 p.m. on July 30, according to internal electoral council documents, compared with the total 8.1 million ballots counted by authorities.
The documents, which break the data down into Venezuela’s 14,515 polling centers, show that 3,720,465 people had voted by 5.30 p.m. Voting ended at 7 p.m. and election experts said doubling the vote in the last hour and a half would be unlikely.
“We stand by our story,” Reuters global communications chief Abbe Serphos said in an email.
Maduro was defiant.
“This election cannot be stained by anyone, because it was a transparent vote, audited before, during and after the ballots were cast,” he told a televised gathering of supporters.
Electronic voting technology firm Smartmatic, which created the voting system that Venezuela has used since 2004, said the turnout figures had been tampered with.
“We know, without any doubt, that the turnout of the recent election for a National Constituent Assembly was manipulated,” said Smartmatic Chief Executive Antonio Mugica in a press briefing in London, without providing details of the company’s methodology.
“We estimate the difference between the actual participation and the one announced by authorities is at least 1 million votes,” he said.
The opposition, which boycotted the vote, has dismissed the official tally as fraudulent. A high turnout was seen as crucial for leftist Maduro to legitimize the election in the face of wide international criticism.