In Brief

Venezuela election 'tampered with', says voting firm

Company boss claims turnout was 'manipulated' by a million people

Turnout figures for Sunday's controversial vote to create constituent assembly in Venezuela were "tampered with", according to the company that provided the voting system.

Antonio Mugica of Smartmatic, which provided about 24,000 machines to allow votes to be cast electronically, said the official turnout number had been manipulated by at least a million, The Guardian reports. 

"We estimate the difference between the actual participation and the one announced by authorities is at least one million votes," he said yesterday, speaking in London. "We know, without any doubt, that the turnout of the recent election for a national constituent assembly was manipulated."

According to the country's electoral council, more than eight million people cast their ballot.  

Mugica declined to answer directly whether the turnout numbers changed the result of the election, but did say the authorities in Venezuela "would not be sympathetic to what we'd say". He added he had not yet passed the evidence to the electoral council.

According to internal electoral council figures reviewed by Reuters, only 3.7 million people had voted by 5.30pm local time on Sunday.

Given that the opposition refused to field candidates, "turnout is seen as crucial in the vote", says the BBC, with the figure giving an indication of support for the government.

President Nicolas Maduro responded to Mugica's claims by accusing Smartmatic of bowing to US pressure.

"That stupid guy, the president of Smartmatic, pressured to the neck by the gringos and the Brits, said there were 7.5 million [voters]," he said, reports the Guardian. "I think there were ten million Venezuelans who went out."

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