Thursday, November 9, 2017

Questions loom over Venezuela’s electronic voting system

The recent regional elections held on October 15 in Venezuela, have sparked a new wave of controversy around Venezuelan elections and the legitimacy of its results.

Andres Velasquez, who was the opposition candidate for the southern state of Bolivar, is crying foul and claims to have physical copies of all tally reports to back his claim. According to Velasquez, the printed machine tallying reports show thousands of more votes for him than the National Elections Council (CNE in Spanish) website shows.

As reported by Anatoly Kurmanaev for the Wall Street Journal, Luis Lander, director of the Venezuelan Electoral Observatory, a nonpartisan group in Caracas that tracks elections stated “There’s clear manipulation here,” after he examined voting-machine receipts that the opposition alliance posted online. “The results were altered to allow the losing candidate to be declared the winner,” he added.

Although the evidence presented seems conclusive, the truth is that fraud accusations should not come as a surprise. “Crying fraud is an extremely familiar routine to the Venezuelan opposition, and one that it has pursued at virtually every election since 1999,” wrote Rachael Boothroyd Rojas on

David Smilde, a US scholar who has followed the political struggles in Venezuela, recently penned an article asking authorities and opposition parties come up with good answers to explain what has transpired through the press. He emphasized that “Both the CNE and the MUD have the ability to significantly clarify what happened and they should do so as soon as possible.”

Describing the electronic voting system used in Venezuela, and how easy could be to determine who is telling the truth, Smilde commented “Venezuela’s voting system has a solid system of audits and checks. Fantasies of secret tabulation rooms that alter the vote can be set aside. Each voter who votes, gets a paper receipt saying who she voted for, and then deposits it in a box. After the elections, the citizens who are working at the tables, representing all parties, count the ballots. Then they check their tabulation with the act that is printed out from the machine. They sign off on it and the parties’ witnesses get a copy of it. These acts can then be compared to the electoral tallies presented by the National Electoral Council (CNE) on their web page, and any fraud can be detected.”

Further complicating matters, during the National Constituency election held in August 2017, the CEO of Smartmatic, the company that had provided the electronic voting solution for all election since 2004, denounced that the turnout figures published by authorities had been manipulated by at least one million. Authorities disregarded the accusation as pure nonsense and proceeded to organize these latest elections with new technology providers.

Francisco Toro, from Caracas Chronicle, thinks “Venezuela’s machine-based electoral system has many, deep problems, but one key redeeming feature: it can be audited.” Questions are looming over Venezuela’s electronic voting system. It is time to act, and audit the tallying reports to find out what happened and clear all doubts. The future of a nation formerly regarded as a democracy beacon is at stake.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Lombardy votes electronically

Picture by Close To Media
On October 22 the Italian regions of Lombardy and Veneto voted in a referendum to decide on greater autonomy for Rome.
In Lombardy, citizens used electronic voting machines to cast their ballot. On the day of the referendum more than 3 million voters - at least 40% of the eligible voters - went to the polling stations to use 24,000 touch-screen voting machines.
The president of the Lombardy region, Roberto Maroni, expressed his satisfaction with the way in which technology facilitated the voting process. "This is a historical democratic experiment, which places us before the future."
The technology helped guarantee greater accessibility and transparency in the processing of results, which could be consulted online through a web page. As seen on the video below, electronic voting machines were taken to the homes of senior citizens in order to facilitate their participation.

Lombardy is the most prosperous region in Italy, with GDP per capita about 35% higher than the European average.