More on the upcoming voting process for Venezuela’s National Assembly Deputies

November 27, 2005

A few months ago, the Electoral Board said that in the upcoming
electoral process, the traditional voting “notebooks” would be replaced
by electronic ones. What this means is that when you show up to vote,
instead of looking you up in a paper notebook and checking that you
voted, this would all be computerized. Sumate objected this vigorously,
arguing that if the electronic notebook kept the sequence of voters,
this could be compared to the sequence in the voting machines and the
vote would no longer be secret. This issue was so important to Sumate
that there is even a presentation on it at the Sumate website explaining the dangers.

There was the additional objection that the fingerprint machine would
also keep this sequence, thus there were two huge flaws in the process.
The Electoral Board objected this initially with as much vigor as
Sumate, insiting in the elctronic notebooks. For some reason that was never explained, the CNE insisted for
weeks that it would use the electornic notebooks. Their main argument
was that the voting machine itself did not keep the sequence, because
the order of the voting was randomized when it was placed in the memory
of the system. However, last week in a trial run, in the presnce of EU
and OAS observers, technical people helping the opposition in the audit
of the process discovered a file called “last MFT midification time”
that did indeed contain the sequence of voters.

While the electronic notebooks were eliminated in the negotiations
between the opposition and the Electoral Board, there will be only a
small scale trial of their use in this elections, the fingerprint
machines will be there and one could easily correlate each voter with
his or her vote, despite the earlier assurances by the CNE that this
was impossible.

Yesterday the CNE met and came out swinging. and so did Sumate.The CNE said that under no circumstances would the fingerprinte machines not be used, that it was impossible to know the sequence and that this was yet another attack on the institution. But the report
of last Wenesday’s audit is quite clear: “it is possible to reestablish
the sequence in which the votes originate if the flash memory or the
hard disks used by the machines are analyzed with a view and recovery
tool of the NTFS file system which keeps the information of the moment
(time) in which the change to the file was made”.

Why the arrogant defenseof the process in the face of a technical
report that the President of the CNE likely does not even understand?
Why the continuos effort to limit the transparency of the electoral
process? If the Governemnt is so popular, why does it have to deny,
block, violate the law and limit the verification of the results? Why
insist on the use of the fingerprint machines if reportedly the AFIS
software (which is supposed to compare them so that nobody votes twice)
is reportedly not functioning?

You tell me.

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