By Carlos Camacho
CARACAS -- More than 1.6 million Venezuelans managed to vote in the contested October 15th regional elections without registering their fingerprints digitally, the key safeguard against fraud and multiple voting in the system, the opposition denounced Monday, as claims of vast and widespread fraud and irregularities kept mounting.
“There are more votes without an associated fingerprint than the CNE first reported,” the President of the National Assembly, opposition lawmaker Julio Borges, said Monday at a press conference.
Every voter needs to have their fingerprints scanned when voting in Venezuela since 2004. That activates another machine, where the actual voting takes place. No matching fingerprint, no vote: the machine blocks itself, preventing cheaters from casting someone else's vote or more than one vote.
When that happens (say, a man missing a thumb wants to vote) the CNE electoral board official present has to manually unblock the machine, allow the man to vote and leave some sort of record of that happening.
However, the company that took care of voting hardware and software from 2004 on, London-based Smartmatic, parted ways acrimoniously with the CNE weeks ago, after reporting Venezuela Regime fraud in the election of the Constituent Assembly on July 30.
On Monday, Borges insisted on a full audit of the October 15th vote, including instances of people voting without an associated fingerprint. “We have the right to know those instances," Borges insisted.
Critics of Maduro took to the news heartily: the opposition was expected to sweep state governments and the massive Maduro win was seen as a shock, a surprise and an outright fraud, depending on who you ask in Caracas.
“That’s just the tip of the iceberg,” headlined the news portion of exchange rate website Dolar Today (the site also publishes a widely used black market rate for the US dollar that contradicts and ridicules the official one Today it hit 41,000 bolivars per dollar. The government reports the official rate as 10 bolivars per dollar).
The government claims it won 18 out of 23 state governments by gaining 900,000 more votes. However, the opposition says more than 1 million voters were relocated in the days leading to the vote (and some 300,000-plus on election day) and now points to the fact that almost 9% of the 18 million Venezuelans elgible to vote October 15th did so without fingerprints.
Other allegations of fraud concern “erased” votes in Bolivar state, where Maduro’s candidate won with an advantage of just 1,480 votes, and many votes were entered mysteriously after the tallies were printed.
The losing Opposition candidate Andres Velasquez, a former governor of Bolivar, went before the CNE on Monday to denounce the fraud in Bolivar.