August 21, 2017

Venezuelan Election Results 'Tampered With' According to Voting Tech Company CEO

03 August 2017, 01:45 | Christie Tate

A voter casts a ballot during the Constituent Assembly election in Caracas Venezuela

A voter casts a ballot during the Constituent Assembly election in Caracas Venezuela

The legitimacy of a powerful new assembly in Venezuela being sworn in on Wednesday was thrown further into question when the voting technology firm involved in its election said the turnout figure was "manipulated". It would also establish an electoral process that could keep Maduro in power with just 20 percent of the vote-roughly equal to the president's current approval rating-sparing him the need to rig the outcome of next year's anticipated elections. That vote had overwhelmingly backed a new Constituent Assembly to enable the transition of Venezuela's political system from the Fourth Republic to the Bolivarian Republic.

He did not, however, specify whether his company's figures showed 1 million fewer, or 1 million more, voters participated in the election.

Members of the worldwide community have criticized the vote and the assembly as well.

Venezuela: Is Nicolas Maduro's "sham" election a tipping point?

President Nicolás Maduro declared a sweeping victory after the vote.

Maduro was defiant in response, saying: "I don't take imperialist orders".

Following the recent vote, two of Maduro's opposition leaders were arrested in midnight raids on their homes, under the court decision that the two men had violated the terms of their house arrest - something their supporters vehemently deny.

"In the United States, it's possible to become president with three million votes less than your opponent", he said. As with last week's round of sanctions against 13 high-level government officials, all of Maduro's assets subject to US jurisdiction are now frozen and people from the USA are prohibited from dealing with the president. Indeed, previous year alone more than 150,000 Venezuelans, fed up with the hellish life of daily shortages, petty violence, and police-state abuses, left the country for the United States, Spain, and other Latin American nations.

Why was the election so controversial?

Government election officials said turnout was more than 41 per cent of the country's 19.4 million eligible voters, while the opposition estimated turnout at 12 per cent. However, opposition politicians say the true number is closer to 12 per cent. The remaining members were elected by people from certain social and industry groups (like students, pensioners or workers).

The opposition boycotted the violence-marred July 30 election, calling it fraudulent.

The late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez infamously bashed former President George W. Bush at the United Nations in 2006.

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Maduro's opponents at home and overseas described the election of a "temporary parliament" a naked attempt to subvert the authority of the National Assembly, with Spanish daily El Pais calling it "the last red line that separates a democracy from a dictatorship".

UN Chief, Antonio Guterres, called on all parties in Venezuela to seek a political solution "in this critical moment" and "particularly those representing the powers of the state".

Venezuela has been in the throes of nationwide protests since late March, with citizens demonstrating against food shortages, galloping inflation and Maduro's autocratic government.

The vote was part of an ambitious plan by the government to consolidate power.

Four months of anti-government protests have left more than 120 Venezuelans people dead. The country was already becoming a dictatorship.

Andrés Mejía Acosta, an expert on Venezuela in the Department of International Development at King's College London, said the discrepancy aired publicly suggests divisions within the government.

He says, "Venezuela deserves democracy".

Maduro has blamed the country's woes on what he calls US imperialism and its supporters inside Venezuela. More sanctions are surely ahead - maybe even on oil, Venezuela's only profitable resource. "We must not tire of demanding a better Venezuela".

Virtually all the new body's 545 members are supporters of the leftist leader.

But majority members of the National Assembly led by Borges insist that they are the legitimate legislators and that they will take their seats at the palace as they normally do. It risks undermining other legitimate institutions foreseen by the Constitution such as the National Assembly.

"We are not in colonial times, we are in the times of free and sovereign peoples", Mr Aissami said.

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