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On The Technical Aspects Of Voting, Venezuela Does It Right

Above photo: Venezuela’s voting system has both a digital tally and a physical receipt tally.  From Venezuelanalysis. (El Impulso)

Caracas, Venezuela – The voting system in Venezuela cannot be technically challenged in any serious way. It is open, transparent, leaves a voter-verified paper record and can easily be recounted if there are any questions about the results. It prevents voter fraud, as a fingerprint is needed to start someone’s voting process.

In the early 2000’s, I was in the leadership of a group seeking to fix the poor voting system in Maryland. After the ‘hanging chad’ election in 2000 that put George W. Bush in the White House, many states rushed to paperless, computer voting systems. Maryland spent tens of millions on Diebold voting systems that were not transparent, provided no voter-verified paper record and could be hacked to change the outcome.

In Maryland, the machines made better anchors than voting systems.

A group of Marylanders formed TrueVote Maryland. Our goal was a transparent voting system that created a voter-verified paper record that could easily be recounted. It took years of work to get rid of the Diebold machines as Maryland invested a lot of money and the Board of Elections liked the ease of corporations handling much of the voting process for them. It was easier for them and it was impossible to question the result. The recount was phony. If the computer software got it wrong the first time, the same software would get it wrong every time. The computer was always right, even when it was wrong.

Venezuela has put in place a technically excellent voting system that provides the quick count of a computer system with the transparency of a voter-verified paper record that can check for computer errors  and count the true intent of the voter, if necessary.

Here is how it works:

This would all work well in US elections. I doubt there would be a need for the fingerprint tool as fake or fraudulent voters are a rarity in the U S. They are almost non-existent and can be checked in other ways. The privacy issues around the government having the fingerprint of every voter would raise more serious issues.

The fingerprint check would also be used to keep voters away. In the US, voter suppression is now part of political campaigns. Each party wants their voters to show up but the other party’s to stay away.

In Venezuela, the goal is to make it easy for voters and to get high turnouts. Suppression does not seem to be part of their campaigns, unless a party makes a tactical decision to not vote. This is almost always a failed tactic and usually is a sign of the electoral weakness of a party.

There is a great deal to talk about when it comes to democracy in Venezuela. The US strangely calls this hyper-democratic nation a dictatorship. In a separate article, I will discuss these issues, but on the technical front of how they vote, Venezuela cannot be challenged and is far superior to the United States.

Addendum: The above article was written during a break on election day between visiting voting precincts. The final visit of the day was to monitor something no other country in the world does — a public, citizen’s audit. When the voting is finished a random sample of 53% of voting machines is selected at each precinct for a citizen audit. This can be monitored by all political parties, the media, and the public. Machines are randomly selected, there is a printout of the electronic result made, all the paper records (which have been approved by each voter) are removed from the ballot box. Each record is read out loud, first the candidates voted for are called out and then the political parties. These are recorded by hand. Each paper record is shown to observers during this process. When the printed records are counted they are compared to the electronic count of the machine.  This unique on-the-spot audit is a very high percentage of machines checked on election day. This is one of the many reasons that experts recognize Venezuela for having the best run voting system in the world.


Kevin Zeese co-directs Popular Resistance and is in Venezuela monitoring the election and other issues as part of a delegation of The Intrepid News Fund and Venezuela Analysis.

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