Chronicles of an eighteen-hour working Sunday

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Yours truly at the voting center. Photo Courtesy of Correo del Orinoco - en serio.
Rodrigo doing his thang. Photo Courtesy of Correo del Orinoco – en serio.

If you’re like most people, for you election day means queuing up, voting, then going back home to try to relax, at least up until it’s baranda time.

Not for me.

In each of the last eight elections I’ve left home at 5:00 am and gotten back at 1:00 am, hungry, bone tired and smelling like a metro station.

I mention this because Quico Toro’s post on Smartmatic touched a lot of nerves, setting off a, um, lively debate. Those brutal 18-hour days have led me to my own conclusions. For me, Quico is right, pero va preso.

Make no mistake about it, Venezuela’s electoral system is hopelessly rigged. And Smartmatic is a disaster. It’s just that the “rigging” does not happen at the e-vote. And Smartmatic isn’t a disaster for the reasons you think.

The electoral system is rigged because the governing party gets unlimited air-time and shamelessly raids state coffers for its campaign spending. Air time + Campaign cash = Votes. That’s a universal formula. Add to the mix opposition candidates banning and coercion, and you have the makings of a perfectly flawed system.

Quico is right about one thing, though: the machines have never tallied anything other than what the paper ballots show people voted for. Never, in any of the eight times I’ve been a witness in voting centers in Petare and other Miranda rural areas (Santa Lucia) has it been any other way. Nor has anyone produced any evidence of that happening anywhere else.

I remember one voting table where the machine showed Capriles had no votes. 0. Zero. Zilch. Nul points. That made me suspicious, of course, but we looked at the paper ballots one by one and it checked out. No one actually voted for Capriles at that table. It happens.

In Petare, I’ve been a volunteer for so many years now that I’m in pretty good terms with everyone, both chavista and opposition. These are mostly good folks. As a volunteer, your job consists mostly of setting up the voting center and running it, since many of the CNE’s (the Venezuelan Electoral Body) randomly picked folks don’t show up.

The most challenging part is actually getting the authorities to close the voting center at 6:00 pm. It’s clear that the voting center directors follow orders from some central agency. They typically refuse to close unless they are pressured at the voting center, regardless of the fact that there isn’t a soul outside.

Every election after the voting center is closed, a chavista crowd starts banging the voting center door demanding it be opened. One time they rammed a motorcycle in, and very violent folks came inside prompting the military to act, calling reinforcements.

Did I mention that by then you’ve already been working for more than 12 hours? Volunteers typically arrive at the polls before 6:00 am. By the time you manage to close the voting center, send all the data and put everything back in the boxes, it’s 10 pm. By closing time everyone is exhausted. No one wants their voting table to get audited.

But audit a sample we must. So you write your voting table’s number on a little piece of paper and drop it into a bowl. Then an “innocent hand” – usually a kid from the community – puts in his hand and pulls out some papers. When the center has an even number of voting tables, you audit half of them, when the number of voting tables is odd, you audit half plus one.

If your number is called, you and the peeps working with you have to go through the paper audit.

You groan. Now you’re looking at two more hours of work, minimum. No one wants to do it because there is never an issue!

What I find most annoying is that folks who demand 100% audit spend their election day on the the couch making bolitas de moco. Every person who demands for 100% of the comprobantes to be audited should spend the day as a volunteer.

And, seriously, even if 100% of the paper ballots were counted, how many of the Fraudmatic partisans would then accept the machines don’t change the vote?

None of this is to say the system is totally secure, it’s not. There is no real way to prevent double voting. Those people banging the doors demanding to vote after the center had closed? They might be voting for a second or third time for all I know. You have hundreds of folks going through your table and maybe thousands at any given voting center. Recognizing a dude or dudette it is pretty damn hard. The fact that the notebooks can’t be audited as the last presidential elections demonstrated makes that part of the process dumb, useless, and incredibly vulnerable.

This brings us back to Smartmatic. Watching @ElRui talking to @LuisCarlos, it’s clear Smartmatic thinks they make a badass product. They don’t. Their product sucks. On so many levels.

For one thing, the user interface is counterintuitive, even for tech-savvy young guys like me. Most of my day is spent explaining to people how to use the machine. Out of 500 people at a polls, I need to explain how the system works to at least 300. Many people just don’t want to bother with any of it. They come in, tell you who they want to vote for and ask you to do it. (That, btw, introduces a wrinkle on the “assisted voting” phenomenon a lot of people fail to grasp: there’s a demand side to it, as well as a supply-side.)

A system like this really ought to be intuitive, self-explanatory: good user interface design is all about dispensing with the need for explanations. By that standard, it’s insane how bad this product is.

There will be hundreds, thousands of voting tables without the benefit of a Rodrigo there to patiently explain Smartmatic’s baffling design choices to voters, and how do they get on?

But it’s not just that the user interface sucks big time, it’s that its product quality is horrible. When a machine breaks down (and they do, a lot) the whole system collapses. Sometimes it takes the whole day to get it fixed.

One infuriating issue that comes up election after election has to do with the way the machine produces the paper comprobantes that voters must then deposit into a ballot box: the machine pops out the paper and then, two seconds later, it cuts it so you can take it. But if the voter pulls on the paper before the machine cuts it, the thing jams! I had to tell 400+ folks that day to please wait til the paper was released.

That, my friends, is the definition of poor design.

Other issues? In some elections the ballot is so large and the cardboard covers on the machine are so small, that it’s crystal clear who’s voting for whom, since the MUD and GPP are located in very distant corners. Some people even keep a running tally. That’s probably more the fault of CNE than Smartmatic, but still.

This, for me, is the real reason to hate Smartmatic: not that they cheat, but that the product they peddle is ridiculously badly designed from a user standpoint, and shoddily put together to boot.

So Smartmatic’s system is a pain in the arse. What gets me is that it’s far from clear to me how it’s better than simple SAT-bubble style paper ballots that you drop in a scanner and get tallied right away, like we used to do. That’s intuitive – you have options with a circle next to them and a pencil. Simply black out the circle next to the option you like with the pencil, then drop the ballot in the ballot box. In the end you feed the ballots thru a scanner.

You wire the data and the results are added. Easy-pleasy.

It is worth mentioning that Smartmatic was granted the multimillion dollar contract to run our elections directly, a dedo, and not in an open bidding process. That raises a lot of eye brows, and Alek Boyd has pointed out major signs of corruption in the process where Smartmatic was chosen. These are things not mentioned in Luis Carlos’ interview. No one, til this day, knows what criteria Jorge Rodriguez and his team applied at the time. What other options did they consider or whether these were guys who they were “friends” with?

What this boils down to is that the Smartmatic machines’ tallying function are the least corrupt cog in a thoroughly fraudulent machine. Quico isn’t wrong, but he shouldn’t let his enthusiasm run away with him. Smartmatic sucks, and that tendencia is irreversible.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Hallo,

    In the past I have criticised your writing. Not now. This was a wonderful reading.

    More importantly: reading this post I realised that if Venezuela ever changes, it will be because there are people like you living there. I mean, yeah, emigrating is hard, building a life as a foreigner and finding your niche, competing… it is difficult and many do fail. BUT what you do is harder. Living in Venezuela, fighting for truth and transparency in the face of violence and stupidity (those machines would never be chosen here. NEVER), living your life in that poisoned environment is a bigger challenge than most problems you could confront in a normal country.

    So, as a Venezuelan, I thank you for your effort.

  2. Man, this is so damn true. I would add that sometimes you have to deal with a CNE representative that believes he/she is in charge, and if you don’t step out and demand your rights you’ll get tampled.
    Once you speak out loud their duties, they just dissapear and the election normally flows better.
    Great post! And thanks for being a volunteer (I just got too tired of it after 6 elections)

    • “…you have to deal with a CNE representative that believes he/she is in charge, and if you don’t step out and demand your rights you’ll get tampled.”

      Hehehe, I had to watch that sort of pathetic folks trying to play the “arrechito” card, but when some collectivo shows up and points a gun to their face, they crumble and fall into their kness (The exactly same as the imbecile plan republica milicos who don’t serve for more stuff than intimidate the voters with their loaded rifles.)

  3. I have been reading the comments on Quico’s post and I seriously don’t understand the logic behind everyone to blame Smartmatic for our lot. I have worked on the other side of the elections, calling the witnesses and counting votes from the act, projecting results and comparing them with the election result. I did this in three elections, two focus on Petare. One I was in charge on whole Lara state… I still failed to see a discrepancy between the results. I totally agree with Rodrigo on the design faults. I am also a computer scientist and come on… specially in complex elections like regional or parliament, the whole interface SUCKS. And this prompts delays in the queues and gives the people a whole sense of chaos. Smartmatic is of course guilty of that. To say that this is the source of fraud is overreaching and plain stupid.

    • To me the reason the government chose Smartmatic and the Captahuellas was not to change the votes but to monitor and control the flow of people. They use the technological infrastructure to get a real-time (live) detailed account of who has voted and when. That lets them focus their get-the-vote-out efforts. They also want people to think that they can know for whom they voted, for intimidation purposes. Big brother watching. And who knows? maybe they can.

      They could not do this with the previous system and so they changed it. Plus the money of course.

      • You are so right about the Captahuellas. I remember they made it even worst last election in which everybody had to go through the Captahuellas first before going to their respective voting table.

  4. Mr. Linares,

    Thank you for this account. I’ve never understood why, with the game so heavily rigged in chavismo’s favor at every level, they would elect to cheat using the one venue that gives them legitimacy internationally. Why would they need to when they have unlimited access and resources to throw at an election? It’s like the New York Yankees showing up at the Little League World Series, being allowed to compete, and then trying to bribe the umpire to ensure a win.

    It was disappointing to see the sniping and acrimony in the other post about Smartmatic, so its nice to see someone write about it that served as an eyewitness to the auditing process.

  5. Thanks.
    Now we have more outstanding questions and observations on the system. At that point you’re right: the learning curve for many users is a problem, and yes: campaign abuses are a mess.

  6. Rodrigo, excellent post, as to the 40% of voting centers where there are Oppo witnesses–these aren’t the problem, the fraud is at the 60% of voting centers where the Oppo doesn’t have witnesses–and, FT originally said there was NO fraud anywhere, then changed to no Smartmatic e-machine fraud, since the fraud, apart from all the electoral system advantages you mention, is in the non-Oppo witnessed voting centers, not in the machines themselves, but where “registered” (but,really didn’t) voters “vote”, and which is detectable only by opening the written cuadernos, which the Government will not allow.

    • The biggest fraud that can never be proven is the voter intimidation of the uneducated and/ or fearful.

      Trying to make everything “provable” is counter- productive, because it isn’t.

    • There are a few misconceptions.

      First, in the last presidential election we had coverage of 90%+ of the polls. Only in the very remote, very chavista locations we didn’t.

      The only plausible form of fraud is ballot stuffing at election day. Ballot stuffing is doable with or without smartmatic.

      Again, no evidence, no confessions, nothing, after 15 years of elections on any of this. NET, this is a wild goose chase. Opposition should focus its demands where they matter: air time + campaign spending.

      • Rodrigo, 90% coverage by Oppo is an impossibility, and, I read LL, in charge of Oppo election witnessing, inadvertewntly say the coverage was 40%.

      • Rodriguo

        The simple fact fears are so great about the machines is a reason good enough for Germans and most other Europeans to have rejected e-voting. Just the fact a new layer of cheating possibilities is introduced (the speed and “swiftness” in which everything occurs once the “all powerful machines tell results” has been considered enough to keep on going with paper.

        And things are faster than in Venezuela, in spite of the bullshit this Smartmatic guy said.

        Now about the coverage:
        In Guacara, which is not the end of the world (it is not Caracas or Miranda, just it), we in principle had witnesses everywhere but they were thrown out on several occasions from several centres.
        The military brought buses of people to vote in those centres and little that people could do.
        The same happened in several places in Southern Valencia. That was in Carabobo, one of the most densely populated areas of Venezuela. Capriles didn’t show proof of this? It can be, but it happened. Now someone is going to tell me those are just “anecdotes”.

        There is another point to Smartmatic: many are scared of the finger prints, no matter what you or I or the bishop might tell them. In Europe people have radically opposed the use of fingerprints for the e-voting experiments and I don’t see why Venezuelans should be less fearful than Europeans. Only in Francisco Toro’s mind things are different. That is a big point.

        Finally, the way the system works, Lucena says “results are irreversible” (because, after all, it’s machines counting) and reality goes like this:
        a lot of people in those difficult places outside Miranda just give up, actas get lost…over and over again.
        This has happened over and over and it happened in 2013.

  7. HA!!!
    This post pretty much evidences how guts-motivated people are.
    Rodrigo and Quico argumented that e-voting system is not the problem, but rodigo gets praised, an quico gets doomed.
    It seems like people just wanted to hear “Fuck smartmatic”

    • There is quite some difference in what Rodrigo and Quico said. See Rodrigo’s comment on what I wrote.
      Please, read stuff like “Fear, coercion, clunkiness are all good reasons to drop Smartmatic”

      Francisco repeats like a parrot we need evidence of fraud even though people with technical knowledge,
      the German Supreme court, Germany’s government and many other governments in developed countries realised the point is not whether there has been fraud or not but the potential for abuse and the FEAR of people…that in countries with a rule of law and division of power.

      The funny thing is that those who really minimize the problem of using Smartmatic or say there is no problem with that (piss off the fear and distrust among very large portions of the population, not just a bunch)
      are people who studied sociology or political science or stuff like that, with no real technical skills on the subject.

      People in computer science get to understand the issues here. It is NOT about whether there is proof of actual fraud.

      Francisco simply can’t grasp what the Germans said here:

      http://history.edri.org/edri-gram/number7.5/no-evoting-germany

      He would just repeat: “show me the fraud”.

      When it comes to talking at cross purposes, Francisco is there.

      • Yes, the problems with Smartmatic are crystal clear -a mixture of incompetence, crappy design, shady deals and an authoritarian government- but are there any good technical reasons for which a properly executed electronic voting system cannot work? To me, the arguments from the Germans seem like typical German ingrained technophobia.

        I mean, in any voting system you will need to have some ‘faith’ in the transparency of the system: there will always be a weak link. To me, postal voting seems to be much more of a leap of faith than e-voting, but there seems to be much more hoopla around the latter.

      • I agree with you about the fingerprint issue, that part is a must-trust thing, and I can imagine someone using the difference of the left and right side of fingers for double voting on those with no previous fingerprints data.

        Regarding on the e-voting persé, I think the >50% auditing reduces A LOOOT the possibility of an unawared software modification.
        I think the question is, Does the cut in time worth the tiny increase of chance of fraud?, I think it does, but that’s just me.

        About fear, I really think it’s an overreaction of people based on the ignorance that fraud is a tiny possibility on a tiny amount of votes. (The more votes are modified, the more likely the soft-mod gets identified)

        Note: I’m just argumenting around the fraud’s possibilities of smartmatic (Which I find very low enough), I have no comments about it being a pain in the ass overall.

  8. “Smartmatic sucks, and that tendencia is irreversible.”

    Of course it does. It was created by Chavez,in Vzla, with a bunch of obscure enchufados, who keep running and changing identities. Smartmatic has failed in every “election” it has been used, heavily criticized and investigated everywhere in Europe, USA, Mexico and now the Philippines. No one wants them, except, of course, for their creators, and sponsors, the Chavistas.

  9. The use of Smartmatic facilitates the electoral fraud by enabling the assignment of the 6 million or so of really non-registered voters to their respective voting centers, where, in the 60% that the Oppo has no witnesses, their names/Cedulas are used to “vote” when necessary.

  10. There is also the allegation that voting machines allow the possibility, as alleged by one insider who defected, to have an intranet controlled out of Cuba to simply input favorable Govt. votes to the CNE at will.

  11. Question: the Smartmatic and paper ballot tally at the voting table. Good. What about at the CNE where all votes are totaled. Can Mr Rodrigo Linares guarantee that the same results are spat out there?

    • At every vote the machine prints a ballot. At the end it also prints a summary of the results at that voting table. When you audit what you do is count the paper ballots and compare it to the print summary. The summary results are sent to an aggregating call center at the MUD HQ. All the paper summaries are sent there later.

      For October presidential elections the MUD had nearly 100% of those paper summaries and the results for every polling station. When added the result was identical to what the CNE published.

      NET. here refuses to see those facts, perhaps because those facts are not made public by the MUD. Saying that only 40% of the polls were covered is false.

      Looking for fraud in the form of electronic fraud is a wild goose chase.

      Air time + spending.

      • The machine balloting and paper balloting obviously coincide, at Oppo witnessed/non-witnessed centers–this is a red herring-false confidence-inspiring. What counts is WHO that machine/paper ballot represents-a legitimate registered voter, or one of 6 million non-legitimate but “registered” voters. Until the Oppo has virtually complete voting center witnessing, which it does not, as per LL’s own published admission (and, I defended him on this Blog, til I read his 40% witness coverage admission), and/or the written cuadernos are opened, the voting fraud will continue, and the Oppo will continue being meekly led to slaughter.

      • Thanks Rodrigo, very convincing. Yet, as a dude who has been dabbling daily in compute-res since 1965, I know the kind of mischief that can be achieved with automata and it is getting worse by the day. I also know that about a couple of weeks before the 2004 referendum, Chavez met Reyes Reyes in Bqto and they were crying on each other’s shoulder that all was lost. Yet, His Nibs came out of it shinning on the voting day. You will pardon me but I am a bit like Thomas, I need to stick my finger in the wound to believe.

    • Charly, as an anecdote, in the October elections (the one where I was really involved in) around 6 pm we tought we would win. Of course, the first results to get aggregated are those in the cities. When the tallies from the regions started to come the picture changed.

      Around 8:00 pm we knew we had lost.

  12. Thanks Rodrigo for your article.

    I too get involved as a volunteer on Election Day, but have the fortune of doing so in Washington DC.

    Since the Embassy really doesn’t care if people come to vote, it falls to the civil society here to organize pretty much everything except the actual polling stations and the actual voting itself.

    One rumor I keep hearing about voting in Venz. is that not all of the fingerprint reader machines are connected to a network, only some of them.

    This opens the door for multiple votes from the same individual with different cedulas.

    Have you experienced this?

    • There isn’t a full database of the finger prints. So, if the fingerprint machine doesn’t detect your finger print the polling table president unlocks the voting anyway….

      That door has been open and continues to be.

    • Interesting, in this article, that 2/3 of voters did not even notice that their votes had been flipped on the paper printout in a fraud test of e-machine voting….

      • Sorry, this is a staple of conspiracy theorizing: the slide whereby something being *possible* in some notional sense starts to get cited as positive evidence that that thing actually did happen. I’m going to stop here because I know I tend to lose my head on this topic, but guys, c’mon…

        • Yeah, only in Europe that is used by the German authorities to decide keeping the manual system.
          Venezuelans are more sophisticated than that and we know people vote without fear, unlike in Germany or Norway, where everyone is a coward…right.

          • I agree. I also agree the system is very rigged without any need for Smartmatic. But Smartmatic itself by its very nature creates fear and an additional level of uncertainty. We do not need to prove fraud, just like the Dutch and above all the Germans do not need to prove it. Smartmatic is useless but for three things:

            – making a lot of people – an awful lot – insecure about the level of secrecy and reliability
            – forcing even more Lucena’s “resultados irreversibles, váyanse todos – los opositores de Guarenas, Tocuyito, Acarigua etc – a su casa, que hemos probado la igualdat, probidat y libertat en Venezuela”-
            and
            – making the Smartmatic people and associates earn money.

            I agree even by getting rid of Smartmatic it is imperative to demand equal broadcast timing, international observers, a massive amount of witnesses and support for witnesses, particularly in the secondary cities all around Venezuela, proper cleanup of the registries and much more.

          • I don’t really buy the argument that because the Germans or the Dutch don’t like e-voting, the concept itself is supposed to be technically doomed. Smartmatic surely, but not the whole idea.

    • For real information, at least top-line, I suggest you read RD’s recent opening testimony to the US Senate Sub-Committee regarding Venezuela.

  13. Good post. You are to be commended on your devotion to your country, no tongue in cheek. I will also have to remember now to refrain from picking my nose every time Venezuela holds an election, out of respect for what you do ;-).

    I have on small bone to pick, though. You state near the end that the old system was fine: “Simply black out the circle next to the option you like with the pencil, then drop the ballot in the ballot box. In the end you feed the ballots thru a scanner.” Putting aside all issues with poor system interfaces, shody equipment, layout, and fat insider contracts to chavista friends, all those things aside, isn’t the smart thing about smartmatic that there is no opportunity for table officials to mess with the votes, or, more correctly, that for messing with the ballots to succeed, the officials would have to (a) change the paper ballot and (b) change the digital vote count (which presumably they cannot access). The scanning system has a big gaping problem in that tampering with a vote requires only modifying the paper ballot (or writing a new one) and scanning it, and ballot stuffing becomes “easy-pleasy”. So, in that sense smartmatic is in fact superior. Assuming there is no opportunity to mess with the digital counts after the fact, which you suggest is the case.

    • Realmente, las licitaciones basicamente el que me lo de mas barato, y la que diera la comisi’on. Era as’i en la cuarta, y bueno en la quinta se ahorran la paja. Y creeme si crees que la espa~nola que hace sistema devotaci’on ( la que m’as se quejo porque eran los que ten’ian el contrato por a~nos) son unos santos pegados de la pared, buehhh. La cosa es que con un CNE , y un sistema (me refiero a como se vota, el captahuellas, los cartoncitos etc, abuso de tiempo en el aire, campa~Na etc…es as’i . Y en Lituania el sistema de votaci’on es muy bueno adivina como lo hacen? entonces necesitas buenas instituciones? s’i

      Por cierto en las ultimas presidenciales de USA donde Obama vota en Chicago se usaron las maquinitas de smartmatic…(si otro sistema electoral etc etc) pero el problema en la INSTITUCION, no la compa~nia…es que hubiesen ido con Indra y no hubiesen hecho los que le daba la gana? o el acta mata voto, pasaba sin Indra? no ahi estaban…era LA INSTITUCION…

  14. Rodrigo, I too have been a volunteer since 2004, weeks before and on election days. Great description. Tiring as it is, I can`t bring myself to vote, then go home and wait, (thoughts of jumping down the barranco come to mind). Only thing you left out was the Plan Repùblica. In my voting center they are the ones who think they are in charge, and it usually takes several stand offs to put them in place. My husband`s only concern every time, is I might get arrested for any of twenty reasons.
    The machines, well, it makes it endless, but in many cases, the only thing that works is standing backwards outside the cardboard and walk voters step by step. Ridiculous.

  15. The system is rigged. period. Fraude occurs previous to election day, during election day and post election day. Ask your self Qui prodest? adn look at it from a criminalistic point of view and a systemic point of view.

    Voter intimidation is a pre /during and post constant.
    It starts in naturalization and new citizenship processes, continues through REP (Voter franchise registry (REP)de. Electronic sub system is also key., and the deterrent of massive state violence should opposition claim fraude and go out to streets to protest is also FRAUDE.

    No se pierdan en filigranas tecnologicas para confundirse y perder foco.
    This is a criminal regime, and they do not play fair. Period.

    Captahuellas in your favourite convenience and farmacy store reinforces fear and intimidation.

    a regime that has pillaged and is pillaging and plans to pillage as much as it can from the public coffers, doe not run fair elections. Period.

    A regime who shoots street protests and imprisons bloggers and key figures of the opposition, does not run fair elections, period.

    Why do we discuss technicalities, when motive, and opportunity and benefit are so clearly evident.

    BTW in case you do need to discuss electronic voting perse, CNE and smartmatic fail to provide the necesary transparency, in my book, to be given the benefit of the doubt (again!).

    does this mean I am a fraud advocate? yes. sorry!
    does this mean electoral exit might be a dead end? in my book yes. sorry.
    Do we get away from so much corruption and conspiracy with out a good fight and a higher cost?, no.

    …sorry again.

    • The difference is the manual audit. That is what guarantees that the totals are correct. The machines are just a fast way of conducting the tallying. The problem is not the use of computers to count the votes and print the Actas. If anything that is a big advantage that makes the process safer and more reliable because it leaves an extra record –with time stamps– of what happened that can then later be verified. It also prevents human error, negligence and tampering in that part of the process, the process of tallying, creating the Acta and sending it to be totaled. The other aspect that people tend to forget is how complicated and tiresome the process of tallying is for legislative elections. Presidential elections are a piece of cake in comparison.

      Remember the “Acta mata a Voto”? that was the motto of the manual process, nobody seems to remember that. Basically what it was is that in a mesa where small parties had no witnesses their votes were ignored and appropriated between those parties with witnesses.

    • “No se pierdan en filigranas tecnologicas para confundirse y perder foco.”

      La actitud de que “todo el proceso es malo y eso es lo único que hay que decir” no es provechosa porque descarta lo bueno con lo malo y no ayuda a identificar cuales son los verdaderos problemas a solucionar. Crea la impresión de que lo malo es la automatización del proceso y que por lo tanto la solución es eliminar las maquinas de votación y usar lápiz y papel. Que eso haría el proceso más seguro. No es verdad.

      La solución es tener un debate usando más la cabeza que las emociones para llegar a conclusiones provechosas.

      Cuales son los aspectos negativos de las máquinas de votación en general (excluyendo las deficiencias particulares de Smartmatic o del proceso actual)?
      1.- Podrían (en teoría) cambiar el voto. Se soluciona con la auditoría.
      2.- Facilitan el Ballot Stuffing.
      3.- Pueden usarse para intimidar al votante, haciéndole creer que su voto no es secreto.
      4.- Podrían (en teoría) proveer información en vivo del flujo de votantes.
      5.- Pueden retrasar el proceso cuando fallan.

      Cuales son los aspectos positivos?
      1.- Producen el acta en forma automática, evitando errores, negligencia y manipulación.
      2.- Transmiten la información de forma segura.
      3.- Producen Actas impresas con un formato uniforme lo cual facilita la verificación posterior y reduce las irregularidades.
      4.- Garantizan el cierre único de las mesas.

      En que aspectos no se diferencian del voto manual?
      1.- No evitan los votos falsos.
      2.- No evitan la intimidación de testigos.

      • No, the Chavista System has been PROVEN to be Prone to Tampering and flaws and manipulations all over Europe and the World.

        • Floyd, you are obviously convinced that if we do away with Smartmatic and keep everything else the same the result would be different.

          On the other hand I am convinced that regardless of what voting device you use, if you change the way the CNE works the results would be different.

          Your way of thinking is dangerous because Chavismo may actually go to manual voting, keep the rest of the system rigged and regain all kinds of legitimacy.

          • No Rodrigo, what I am convinced of is that Chavez created Smartmatic to win elections. I’m convinced that any such e-voting system is flawed, unaccountable, and prone to manipulations, as everyone else is saying, in Germany, Netherlands, USA, and even the Philippines now.

            It’s even EASIER to commit the fraud in large scale with these electronic systems, for multiple reasons. Hit the links provided for days here, or Google it up, do your own research!!

            Germans don’t fool around:

            “Those paper trails were not used in Germany and the Netherlands, making it impossible to verify the elections manually.

            Security issues arise even when paper trails are used, according to Goos.

            “Critics argue that systems still can be manipulated in a way that the printed version is different from the cast vote,” said Goos. “One main concern about possible fraud enabled by electronic means is that its scale could be much larger and possibly undetected compared to traditional voting methods,”

          • “can be” is different than “has been”. But even those reports agree that there is some level of detection, and after the millions of votes cast, after all this elections, never, it has happened once in Venezuela.

            Again, I dislike Smartmatic because it is a lousy product. But this e-fraud fixation is a diversion from what really matters.

          • 100% on the spot.

            and be wary of the semantic trap of the similar name for “system” for both the electoral system (larger system) and the electronic voting system (smartmatic)

            What is priority is the electoral system rigging, not the technological flaws ans weaknesses (and strengths!) of this and any other electronic voting system.

            in other words, no es la flecha, es el indio!

  16. I wonder in which countries did these folks from Smartmatic work, previous to their juicy contract with the Venezuelan baboons running the show…(if any)

    • Smartmatic has a brief but controversial history. The company was started in Caracas during the late 1990s by engineers Antonio Mugica and Alfredo Anzola. They worked out of downtown Caracas providing small-scale technology services to Latin American banks. Despite having no election experience, the tiny company rocketed from obscurity in 2004 after it was awarded a $100 million contract by the Chávez-dominated National Electoral Council to replace Venezuela’s electronic voting machines for the recall vote.

      When the council announced the deal, it disingenuously described Smartmatic as a Florida company, though Smartmatic’s main operations were in Caracas and the firm had incorporated only a small office in Boca Raton. It then emerged that Smartmatic’s ”partner” in the deal, Bizta Corp., also directed by Anzola and Mugica, was partly owned by the Venezuelan government through a series of intermediary shell corporations. Venezuela initially denied its investment but eventually sold its stake.

      And they keep hiding, changing forms and homes from Venezuela to the USA, to the Netherlands, to London, Caribbean, etc. The latest Houdini acts are happening right now in a fantastic MESS in the Philippines..

      Look it up!

      • Thanks floyd! Im sorta acquainted with the story but not in depth as you. Also one of their co-founders (Alfredo Anzola) died in a plane-crash in Caracas circa 2009 or 2010. Its a huge sham all of this. Business a-la-Bolivarienne

  17. Given the relative simplicity of Venezuelan elections (one vote for President, no other offices), the user interface must be really bad if people can’t figure out how to use it. Here in Chicago we have both mark/scan ballots and electronic voting machines at every precinct. They are supplied by Sierra Voting, which was and may still be a subsidiary of Smartmatic.

    We usually have over 100 ballot positions (in 2014, U.S. Representative, Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Comptroller, Treasurer, state Supreme Court Justice, state Representative and Senator, county President, Commisioner, Sheriff, State’s Attorney, Assessor, Clerk, Recorder of Deeds, Treasurer, and Circuit Court Clerk, Board of Tax Appeals, Water District Comissioners, several circuit court judges, and “retention” for 73 judges), but in my precinct there was almost no trouble with voters failing to understand how to use the machine. And in the precinct we have loads of elderly and non-English-speaking voters.

    Is there a “Web” simulation of the Venezuelan voting machine somewhere? It would make this discussion a lot meatier.

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