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Venezuela Altered Election Turnout by at Least 1 Million, Voting Company Says

On Wednesday, Smartmatic said that although Venezuela’s election process includes “a series of auditing systems” that “are impossible to circumvent,” no election monitors from the opposition were present to watch for evidence as it came in. Opposition parties had boycotted the vote, declining to participate in the election or review the returns on Sunday evening.

The absence of auditors, the company said, allowed for a manipulation of the turnout numbers. Venezuela’s government did not respond to the allegation.

The vote has been widely condemned by Venezuela’s neighbors as a power grab for Mr. Maduro’s leftist movement. The constituent assembly could effectively liquidate any official channels of dissent, leaving opponents with few options beyond street protests.

Late Tuesday night, Reuters reported that just 3.7 million votes had been cast by 5:30 p.m., not long before polling centers closed, based on official election documents the agency reviewed.

The size of the turnout has been central to the legitimacy of the vote, as both the government and the opposition argue that the other side does not have widespread support. In early July, the opposition held a symbolic referendum against the constituent assembly, and said it drew around 7.1 million voters. That figure was not independently verified.

Smartmatic said in its statement that it had provided voting services for the Venezuelan government since 2004.

“Even in moments of deep political conflict and division we have been satisfied that the voting process and the count has been completely accurate,” the company said. “It is, therefore, with the deepest regret that we have to report that the turnout figures on Sunday, 30 July, for the Constituent Assembly in Venezuela were tampered with.”

Source: NYT > World

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