The Venezuelan government reported false turnout figures for its contentious election over the weekend, announcing a tally that had been altered by at least one million votes, a software company involved in setting up voting systems for the country said on Wednesday. “We know, without any doubt, that the turnout of the recent election for a National Constituent Assembly was manipulated,” the company, Smartmatic, said in a statement. The vote was part of an ambitious plan by the government to consolidate power. President Nicolás Maduro instructed Venezuelans to select from a list of trusted allies of the governing party — including his wife — who will rewrite the nation’s Constitution and rule Venezuela with virtually unlimited authority until they finish their work.
Voters were not given the option of rejecting the plan. Venezuela’s new governing body, known as the constituent assembly, will soon take charge of the country with the power to dismiss any branch of government, including the opposition-controlled legislature.
The National Electoral Council said Sunday that nearly 8.1 million people had voted, just over 40 percent of eligible voters. But many Venezuelans rejected those figures as unrealistically high, pointing to the absence of lines or crowds at polling places. And no major monitoring missions watched over the vote.