Punto Fijo, April 4th, 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s opposition coalition (MUD) made new accusations yesterday about the security of the country’s electoral system, yet both campaigns agreed that the problem was not serious.
According to the Capriles campaign, during an audit of the voting machines it was discovered that a technician from the pro-government party (PSUV) had the password to the electoral machines.
Executive Secretary of the MUD coalition Ramon Guillermo Aveledo made the announcement at a press conference on Wednesday.
“Today we want to denounce that on Saturday, March 30th, while Venezuelans were enjoying Easter weekend, our team was working in the National Electoral Council (CNE) auditing the electoral system, and they verified that one technician, who is a PSUV member, was in possession of the password for the start-up and log-in and log-out of the machines,” he said.
As a part of Venezuela’s voting process, technicians from all political parties are provided access to the voting machines beforehand in order to audit and certify the correct functioning of the overall electoral process.
It was during this auditing process that MUD party officials claim to have seen the PSUV party member using the password to enter the machines, an accusation that was verified by one of the directors of the CNE who is aligned with the opposition.
“This accusation is true, it was on Saturday, and it is a situation that is absolutely grave and out of the ordinary,” said CNE director Vicente Díaz.
However, both Aveledo and Díaz went on to explain that this password did not in any way compromise the security of the electoral process.
“Knowledge of this password does not put the voting system at risk, it’s true, it does not put the electoral software at risk, nor the identification of voters, nor the vote count, nor the transmission of the results,” said Aveledo.
Díaz also reiterated this, saying that “in no way” would it affect the electoral results, but maintained that no political party should have access to this password, which allows machines to be started up and shut down.
“[The password] does not allow access to the voting system, which is protected by other passwords and authentication procedures that are absolutely guaranteed,” he said.
Aveledo claimed that with this password the PSUV could “sabotage” the functioning of the majority of the electoral machines, presumably by shutting them down on election day, but admitted that there was little risk of this happening.
“The CNE has every possibility of detecting any such actions in real time on the day of the elections,” assured Díaz.
Nevertheless, the opposition coalition held a special press conference yesterday to make the denunciation, and presented a formal complaint to the president of the CNE, Tibisay Lucena, which was widely covered by the national media.
Maduro Campaign Response
Pro-government officials were quick to respond to the charge, accusing the opposition of trying to discredit the electoral system so that they could then reject the electoral results or withdraw from the race completely.
The director of the Maduro campaign, Jorge Rodriguez, assured that the accusations were simply part of opposition attempts to destabilize the electoral process.
“They are trying to create a reason to not recognize the electoral results, and to abandon the race. They only believe in destabilization,” he said to state channel VTV.
Rodriguez went on to say that PSUV candidate Nicolas Maduro was certain to win the elections, given that several polls have shown him to have a significant advantage, and assured that the opposition “doesn’t believe in democracy”.
Former Communications Minister Andres Izarra also responded via Twitter, assuring that the password being referred to was not relevant.
“That password is for maintenance of the machines. It has absolutely no relevance nor does it interfere in the functioning of the machines,” he said.
Izarra also assured that the opposition campaign is looking to create a scenario to subvert the elections.
“That’s all this clumsy argument about the password is trying to achieve,” he said.
The Maduro campaign later published online the document that was signed by opposition technicians after Saturday’s auditing process in which they certified that everything was functioning correctly, and that they had no objections with the electoral system.