Irregularities that have taken place in this year’s U.S. presidential election are eerily similar to voting manipulation that helped Hugo Chávez stay in power in 2004, according to a senior former CIA official.
He described Chávez, who ruled Venezuela from 1999 until his death in 2013, as a “new kind of dictator.” Upon his taking power, Chávez revised the country’s constitution to increased the presidential term of office from five to six years, but also allowed people to call off his presidency in a referendum, which required 20 percent of signatures of all 11 million voters.
By 2003, opponents of Chávez managed to collect enough signatures to trigger a referendum. “That’s when he started to panic,” the former intelligence official—who is also an expert in Latin American politics and counterterrorism—told The Epoch Times. “So he started talking to a company called Indra, which is a Spanish company that runs elections.”
The technology used by Indra at that time, according to him, wasn’t “flexible” enough to do what Chávez wanted to do. He said that the regime then turned to Smartmatic, a company registered in Delaware and founded by three young Venezuelan engineers. After receiving a contract for $150 million to overhaul the country’s election system ahead of the 2004 referendum, Smartmatic bought machines from Italian lottery machine maker Olivetti.
“At midnight on election day the machine stopped counting,” he said, adding that at that point, Chavez was losing. “By 3 a.m., Chavez had won by 10 percent.”
Right after the November U.S. general election, a whistleblower with a military background in Venezuela alleged in an affidavit on Nov. 16 that Smartmatic participated in a scheme to manipulate the Venezuelan election results in favor of Chávez, The Epoch Times reported.
The Epoch Times was not able to independently verify the claims.
Smartmatic denied that they manipulated the Venezuelan election.
“Over the last two decades, we have registered and counted nearly 5 billion auditable votes without a single spoiled vote or security breach. We designed our technology to enable all election stakeholders audit the entire process. Our software has been open to audits by all political parties in all countries where we operate. All audits of elections that have used Smartmatic technology have validated the accuracy of the results, confirming the integrity of the election,” the company said in a statement to The Epoch Times.
FIle photo of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez speaking during Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio de Aguilar Patriota’s official visit at Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas, on Nov. 1, 2012. (Leo Ramirez/AFP/Getty Images)
He drew parallels between the 2004 Venezuelan referendum and a halt on ballot counting that has occurred in several U.S. cities in the early hours of Nov. 4. In a speech given that day, President Donald Trump said that the counting had been inexplicably “called off” in states where he was leading, suggesting potential cheating and fraud.
The former CIA official said there were other irregularities that had occurred during the 2004 Venezuelan referendum that also took place in U.S. cities during this year’s election. He pointed to a Nov. 25 hearing in Philadelphia, during which observers testified that the city’s Board of Elections was processing hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots with “zero civilian oversight or observation.”
“The board of elections erected a fence about 50 feet into the hall that ran the length of the room, all observers were corralled behind the fence,” election observer Justin C. Kweder said. “More than a hundred board workers processed and opened mail-in ballots on the other side of the fence.”
The expert said Venezuelan election officials had been instructed to do the exact same thing to help Chávez win the 2004 referendum.
“This is what happened in Venezuela in 2004,” he said. “They have a book, they have a manual. They tell you what exactly you need to do to in order to execute the fraud.”