This Sunday is Election Day in Venezuela, where eligible citizens will use an electronic voting system that has been ranked among the most sophisticated in the world. “After keying in an identification number, a voter’s photo and name will pop up on a screen. Only after validating their identity with a thumb swipe over an electronic reader will the voting machine be activated…It’s designed to weed out double voting and leave behind a paper and digital trail that makes it fast and easy to audit.” Watchdog groups are warning that the system and other perceived anomalies seem to favor the reelection of President Hugo Chavez. Others say that the groups are conspiracy theorists who support Chavez’ opponent, Henrique Capriles.
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What’s the Big Idea?
One concern is voter privacy: In 2004, the names of 2.4 million people who signed a residential recall petition were released to the public, leading to firings and discrimination. The system is linked to the country’s voting panel, which raises doubts as to whether votes are truly as secure as designers and independent auditors claim. Other issues, according to the watchdogs, are a 20-percent increase in the voter rolls and a nearly six-fold increase in voter tables. Despite these, experts believe that the election process is “more or less protected.”