Turnout figures in Venezuela’s constituent assembly election on Sunday were inflated by at least one million votes, according to the company that has provided the country with its voting system since 2004.
“It is with the deepest regret that we have to report that the turnout numbers on Sunday 30th July for the Constituent Assembly in Venezuela were tampered with,” Antonio Mugica, CEO of Smartmatic, told a media conference in London. “We know, without any doubt, that the turnout of the recent election for a national constituent assembly was manipulated.”
“We estimate the difference between the actual participation and the one announced by authorities is at least 1m votes,” he continued.
The election, which took place on Sunday, was to elect the members of the “constituents’ assembly,” an illegal parallel legislature made up entirely of socialist supporters of dictator Nicolás Maduro tasked with rewriting the country’s constitution.
The electoral council president, Tibisay Lucena, claimed the turnout at 41.53 percent, approximately 8.1 million people, but opposition leaders said they believed the figure was instead between 2 million and 3 million people who had voted, while one well-respected independent analysis put the number at 3.6 million.
“Participation today will not reach the required 15 percent turnout to legitimize the result, states the constitution,” opposition leader Henrique Capriles wrote on Twitter after the result. “You failed, Maduro!”
“I’m absolutely sure that those numbers are not correct,” added Venezuelan Attorney General and former ally of the government Luisa Ortega. “What they announced was a mockery of the people.”
The vote was also influenced by a number of irregularities, including reports of intimidation and widespread violence that killed over a dozen people, while about 100 people were arrested during mass demonstrations.
Nevertheless, on Sunday evening, Maduro hailed the election as a victory, describing the poll as “the biggest vote the Bolivarian revolution has ever had in all 18-year electoral history” and arguing the result would bring “reconciliation and peace” to the crisis stricken country.
“The National Constituent Assembly is born with a great popular legitimacy,” he declared.
World leaders and international bodies have said they will not recognize the result, including Latin American neighbors including Argentina, Peru, Chile, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, and Mexico, as well as the United States, Canada, and the European Union.
On Monday, President Donald Trump placed personal sanctions on Maduro in response to Sunday’s election, which include the freezing of assets, travel restrictions, and a ban on Americans doing business with Maduro.
Meanwhile, administration officials are also considering additional sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry, which represents 95 percent of the country’s total exports.