Voting audits start today in Venezuela. The Venezuelan National Electoral Board (CNE) promised to make a partial audit of the April 14 election giving Nicolas Maduro a marginal victory. They hope to complete close to half of the recounts by the end of today. Much to the advantage of Maduro, the Venezuelan President of CNE, Tibisay Lucena did not promise to count all the ballots. According to Buenos Aires herald.com “After a long analysis by the CNE, we can confirm that it is impossible to approve the type of request that the opposition has made, since it is not considered within the legal system,” Lucena explained.
This will not be acceptable enough for Maduro’s opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who along with others feel that the election was plagued with fraud, and has asked for a recount of 100 percent of the votes. Capriles promises to continue his fight all the way to the Venezuelan Supreme Court, asking to annul the election and allow Venezuelans to go back to the polls. According to CSmonitor.com, independent auditors and the opposition’s own technical team, the thumbprint reader attached to the Smartmatic voting machines scrambles the order of votes, so there’s no way to know who voted for whom.
Smartmatic is already facing criticism because of its mechanical issues that others deem have security risks. Smartmatic was used in Manila, Philippines in 2010, and the machines reported votes from districts that didn’t even exist. According to Manilainformer.com, 54 of the polling precincts in the autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) were errors.
One would think that the U.S. government would try to remedy any errors or loopholes found in these machines and their software, or at least not use them, but quite the opposite seems to be happening. Earlier this year, the United States’ Commissions of Elections (Comelec) decided not only to continue using them, but they have also decided to remove some safeguards needed to assure a clean election. According The Daily Tribune, ballot boxes will not be padlocked, but instead plastic seals with serial numbers will be used. The U.S. system will not be using the voter’s thumb mark, all that would be required to vote will be a signature. The United States will be using the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) and their compact flash (CF) cards, even though in the 2010 U.S. national election, Smartmatic held up voting because they needed to replace 76,000 misconfigured CF cards. LDLA Marketing, a company who lost their bid for the CF cards, filed a petition to the Supreme Court questioning the acts and decisions of Comelec. In their petition they claim Comelec requested a public bidding for the CF cards with specification that only Smartmatic could meet.
The recent election problems faced by both Venezuela and the United States goes to prove that newer technology does not necessarily guarantee greater fairness or the end of corruption, a clear investigation of the options available should be considered by all nations when implementing voting systems.