I see fingerprint machines in our future

July 30, 2006

El Nacional reports today
that the President and Vice-President of the CNE Tibisay Lucena and Janeth Hernandez consider the use of fingerprint capturing machines “indispensable” because these machines guarantee the principle of “one man, one vote”. This position is also backed by the people on the technical side of the CNE who not only supprt the idea, but are already preparing a purcahse order for Cogent Systems of some 1,500 to 4,000 machines. The problem at this point is that there has been no decision on the matter, as the other three members of the Board have not said explicitly how they would vote, so the issue has not come to the table. What is known, is that most major opposition candidates have said that they refuse to have conditions that are worse than in the 2004 Assembly elections, where the fingerprint capturing machines were not used. Thus, it is likely that they would withdraw if the machines are present, except for El Conde and a couple of more.

What is interesting, is that there is no technical stiudy to back up even the use of these machines, let alone the expenditures. Venezuela uses indelible ink on the pinkie finger as a way of guaranteeing that there would not be people voting twice. Thus, the only possibility is if the poll monitors ignore the ink. In the past estimates of the percentage of people voting twice have shown that this is very insignificant, with other problems such as tally manipulation being much more important. But the worst part is that the CNE has never revealed any technical information about the use of the fingerprint machines in the three elections where they were used. It is not even known whether the system worked in real time to stop anyone from voting twice or how many people actually tried it, or even if whether they were accepted or not.

Thus, our electoral authorities have spent over US$ 100 million on a system that is feared by the people, but that nobody outside the CNE has any idea as to whether it even does the job, whether it is necessary or even if it has worked properly. Moreover, theer was no bidding process, Cogent was handpicked by former CNE President Jorge Rodriguez.

The whole thing is simply a charade. It is the fear induced in the people with the fingerprint machines that makes them a technical imperative. It is once again the abuse of the people’s rights by creating this aura of the violation of privacy of the voters with the machines, that makes them so useful to the autocracy. People have no idea if the Government can tell how they voted, but the fear instilled in them is such, that if the machines are present, many would prefer to stay home. Another generous and Machiavellic “gift” of the perverse revolution.

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