Smartmatic, as described in 2006 by the U.S. Embassy’s political counselor in Caracas

Smartmatic, as described in 2006 by the U.S. Embassy’s political counselor in Caracas. Via Wikileaks, a confidential cable by Robert Downes, the U.S. Embassy’s political counselor in Caracas at the time.

Smartmatic is a riddle. The company came out of nowhere to snatch a multli-million dollar contract in an electoral process that ultimately reaffirmed Chavez’ mandate and all-but destroyed his political opposition.

The perspective we have here, after several discussions with Smartmatic, is that the company is de facto Venezuelan and operated by Venezuelans. The identity of Smartmatic’s true owners remains a mystery. Our best guess is that there are probably several well-known Venezuelan businessmen backing the company who prefer anonymity either because of their political affiliation or, perhaps, because they manage the interests of senior Venezuelan government officials. …

The electronic voting company went from a small technology startup to a market player in just a few years, catapulted by its participation in the August 2004 recall referendum….

Of course, the Venezuelan opposition is convinced that the Smartmatic machines robbed them of victory in the August 2004 referendum. Since then, there have been at least eight statistical analyses performed on the referendum results. Most of the studies cross-check the results with those of exit polls, the signature drives and previous election results. One study obtained the data log from the CANTV network and supposedly proved that the Smartmatic machines were bi-directional and in fact showed irregularities in how they reported their results to the CNE central server during the referendum. (Note: The most suspicious data point in the Smartmatic system was that the machines contacted the server before printing their results, providing the opportunity, at least, to change the results and defeat the rudimentary checks set up by international observation missions. Since August 2004, the CNE has not repeated this practice.) These somewhat conspiratorial reports perhaps serve to breathe life into a defeated opposition, but have never proved conclusively the fraud (refs b and c).

The Smartmatic machines suffered a major blow, however, when in a test prior to the December 2005 National Assembly elections an opposition technician was able to defeat the machine’s allegedly random storage protocols and, therefore, the secrecy of the vote. The technician took advantage of the fact that the computerized machines used a Windows operating system. A simple program downloaded from the Internet accessed underlying Windows files created “in order” as the machine processed Smartmatic’s “randomizing” software. Although Smartmatic officials argued convincingly that such controlled results could not be feasibly replicated during a real election (ref d), the opposition parties boycotted. Abstention rates soared to at least 75 percent and confidence in the CNE among opposition voters plummeted. The disastrous results left Chavez with 100-percent control of the National Assembly, an albatross around the neck of a leader trying to appear democratic.

Venezuela, and now the USA? Is the future of the USA to be that the Democrats always win, and the Republicans boycott the rigged elections?

Solution: Hand count the ballots, under the scrutiny of both parties. If either party doesn’t agree, but wants to keep the current system, then they think they are benefiting from cheating. Other signs they know the election is rigged in their favor is that they put forward a dud candidate and don’t bother campaigning much.