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October 31, 2006

Oh On. We're Using Venezuelan Voting Machines!

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 10/31/2006 02:14:00 AM
In another sign of xenophobia, there is now public outcry that voting machines that will be used in November elections in the US are made by a company whose shareholder includes the Venezuelan government. Hugo Chavez owns a piece of Smartmatic which makes voting machines that will be used in 16 states.

Smartmatic Corp., whose voting machines will be used in midterm elections next week, says it adopted a complicated ownership structure to minimize taxes and protect intellectual property, and not to mask any control by Venezuela's government.

Smartmatic, which is owned by Venezuelan entrepreneurs who split their time between Boca Raton, Fla., and Caracas, has been caught up in a government probe over foreign ownership. On Election Day, Smartmatic equipment will be used in 16 states, including Florida and California, and the District of Columbia.

I see an election scandal already.

The Smartmatic purchase has drawn attention because of concerns that the government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, an opponent of U.S. policies, has a stake in the company. Smartmatic came to prominence in 2004 when its machines were used in an election to recall President Chávez, which Mr. Chávez won handily -- and which the Venezuelan opposition say was riddled with fraud. Smartmatic put together a consortium to conduct the recall elections, which included a company called Bizta Corp., in which Smartmatic owners had a large stake. For a time, the Venezuelan government had a 28% stake in Bizta in exchange for a government loan.

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