Smartmatic is a multinational company that specializes in building and implementing electronic voting systems. The company also produces smart cities solutions[buzzword] (including public safety and public transportation), identity management systems for civil registration, and authentication products for government applications.
Smartmatic itself provided the machines for the 2004 Venezuelan Referendum.
Smartmatic was the main technology supplier for fourteen Venezuelan national elections. In March 2018, Smartmatic ceased operations in Venezuela.
This happened after Venezuela turned into a socialist wasteland.
Smartmatic was a little-known firm with no experience in voting technology before it was chosen by Venezuelan authorities to replace the country’s elections machinery ahead of a contentious referendum that confirmed Chávez as president in August 2004.
At the time, Smartmatic was a technology startup that operated from a small house in Boca Raton, Fla., and a one-room office with a single secretary. Its chief officers were two 30-year-old Venezuelan engineers, Antonio Mugica and Alfredo Anzola, who were childhood friends
But it all started in 2004. Venezuela’s previously existing laws that were established before Hugo Chávez’s Bolivarian Revolution stated that automated voting was required in Venezuela, with United States firm Election Systems & Software and Spanish company Indra Sistemas already being used in the country. In response to a bid process for the 2004 Venezuela recall election initiated by the National Electoral Council (CNE), Venezuela’s electoral authority, the SBC Consortium was formed in the third quarter of 2003.
The SBC Consortium comprised Smartmatic, Bizta, and telecommunications organization CANTV. For the 2004 elections, the SBC Consortium competed with Indra and other companies, ultimately winning the contract and being awarded $128 million, with Smartmatic retrofitting gambling machines to be used for the process. During the election, Smartmatic operated the voting machines, Bizta sent manual votes in remote areas to software centers and CANTV provided logistical assistance.
Smartmatic’s headquarters moved to London in 2012, while it also has offices and R&D labs in the United States, Brazil, Venezuela, Barbados, Panama, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Estonia, and Taiwan.
Now after these machines proved to be “very successful” Los Angeles County or the most famous “Sanctuary City” in our country decided to use these machines.
Los Angeles County, which has about 5 million registered voters, began searching for a new electoral system in 2009 after the county determined that available systems at the time were not suitable. The Voting System Assessment Project (VSAP) was initiated to establish a publicly-owned voting system and to provide research of electoral methods for other voting jurisdictions interested in replicating the process.
In 2017, Los Angeles County signed a $282 million contract with Smartmatic to create an election system to be used for future elections and became the first publicly-owned voting system in the United States. The system will be used first during the 2020 California Democratic primary. Both software and hardware were developed in the United States by Smartmatic while ownership of all products and intellectual properties was then given to Los Angeles County. The machines developed to incorporate an interactive ballot that is printed by each voter to validate results and then deposited back into voting machines.
As the Smartmatic site reveals Los Angeles County voters will start using their new voting system in the 2020 elections. Election officials cited Smartmatic’s unparalleled experience in providing secure, advanced election technology and services to election commissions throughout the world as the primary reason for choosing Smartmatic as their VSAP partner.
Smartmatic participated in its first US election during the 2005-2006 election cycle providing technology and support services to clients of its subsidiary, Sequoia Voting Systems, in 300 jurisdictions across 16 states, including some 60,000 voting devices to the city of Chicago and to Cook County, Illinois.
In 2020 and 2021, Smartmatic will introduce in the United States its most current multi-functional voting machine based on the VSAP, along with state-of-the-art e-Poll books, scanners and vote tabulators. According to VSAP, interest in the voting system was expressed by other districts in the United States and internationally. These machines were also used in the 2016 Utah Republican caucus, where Utah Republicans voted to choose the party’s nominee for president in the 2016 US Presidential election, the voters had the opportunity to vote using traditional methods or to vote online. For online voting, the Utah Republican Party used an internet voting system developed by the Smartmatic-Cybernetica Internet Voting Centre of Excellence, based in Estonia.
Despite warnings from security experts, Utah GOP officials billed the online voting system, for which the state paid $150,000. Multiple issues occurred with the system, with voters receiving error messages and even being blocked from voting. Smartmatic received thousands of calls from Utah voters surrounding issues with the process. The Washington Post states that “the concern seems to be less with the technology and more with the security of the devices people use to vote”.
According to Joe Kiniry, the lead researcher of Galois, a technology research firm:
Several of us did a lightweight analysis of it remotely, to see how it was built and deployed and this sort of thing … we found that they were using technologies that even modern Web programmers stay away from. … It’s like the dumbest possible choices are being made by some of these companies with respect to deployed technology that should be mission-critical!
Responses from voters, who participated in the caucus from more than 45 different countries, was positive. 94% approved of the experience, 97% responded that they were interested in participating in future online elections and 82% thought online voting should be used nationally.
Back in 2006, Smartmatic was under an investigation from the federal government for a possible election meddling, but nothing happened.
The company grows larger since then and in 2014, Smartmatic’s CEO Antonio Mugica and British Lord Mark Malloch-Brown announced the launching of the SGO Corporation Limited, a holding company based in London whose primary asset is the election technology and voting machine manufacturer.
According to the Daily Caller:
THE CHAIRMAN OF SMARTMATIC IS LORD MARK MALLOCH-BROWN, WHO SITS IN THE BRITISH HOUSE OF LORDS AND ON THE BOARD OF GEORGE SOROS’S OPEN SOCIETY FOUNDATIONS. HE WAS FORMERLY THE VICE-CHAIRMAN OF SOROS’S INVESTMENT FUNDS AND EVEN THE DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS WHEN HE WORKED AS CHIEF OF STAFF TO KOFI ANNAN.
MALLOCH-BROWN’S RESUME INCLUDES STINTS AS VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE UN WORLD BANK AND IN BRITISH PRIME MINISTER GORDON BROWN’S CABINET.
IN ADDITION TO A CLOSE RELATIONSHIP WITH SOROS, MALLOCH-BROWN HAS WORKED WITH CONSULTING FIRMS THAT ARE WELL-CONNECTED TO BILL AND HILLARY CLINTON. HE WAS AN INTERNATIONAL PARTNER WITH THE SAWYER-MILLER CONSULTING FIRM AND WAS A SENIOR ADVISER TO FTI CONSULTING.
So according to the Daily Caller the company now also have connections with George Soros.
Experts often say that the old machines were “antiquated, seriously flawed, and vulnerable” and must be removed from service. Some election security experts and advocates say the new system still has security vulnerabilities. They also cite trust issues because the scanners count votes that are recorded as bar codes and aren’t readable by humans.
But the real question is which company is replacing them?