Smartmatic was officially incorporated on April 11. 2000 in Delaware. After receiving funds from private investors, the company then began to expand. Smartmatic was the main technology supplier for fourteen Venezuelan national elections. Smartmatic’s incorporators and inventors have backgrounds evidencing their foreign connections, including Venezuela and Serbia. In March 2018, Smartmatic ceased operations in Venezuela.
Dominion Voting Systems acquired the vote-rigging software when it purchased Sequoia Voting Systems from Smartmatic, which originally developed the software, and signed a non-competition agreement. Smartmatic CEO Mark Malloch-Brown has acknowledged a software licensing agreement between Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems. After the 2020 presidential election, George Soros appointed Malloch-Brown as president of OSF. Retired Admiral Peter Neffenger, who is on the Biden junta's transition team, is on the board of directors of SmartMatic.
Smartmatic acquired Sequoia Voting Systems in 2005. Following this acquisition, Rep. Carolyn Maloney requested an investigation to determine whether the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) had followed correct processes to green-light sale of Sequoia to Smartmatic, which was described as having "possible ties to the Venezuelan government". The request was made after a March 2006 following issues in Chicago and Cook County, where a percentage of the machines involved were manufactured by Sequoia, and Sequoia provided technical assistance, some by a number of Venezuelan nationals flown in for the event. A WikiLeaks cable from July 10, 2006 discussed ownership:
|“The Venezuelan-owned Smartmatic Corporation is a riddle both in ownership and operation, complicated by the fact that its machines have overseen several landslide (and contested) victories by President Hugo Chavez and his supporters. The electronic voting company went from a small technology startup to a market player in just a few years, catapulted by its participation in the August 2004 recall referendum. Smartmatic has claimed to be of U.S. origin, but its true owners — probably elite Venezuelans of several political strains — remain hidden behind a web of holding companies in the Netherlands and Barbados. The Smartmatic machines used in Venezuela are widely suspected of, though never proven conclusively to be, susceptible to fraud. The company is thought to be backing out of Venezuelan electoral events, focusing now on other parts of world, including the United States via its subsidiary, Sequoia.”|
Following the request, Smartmatic and Sequoia submitted a request to be reviewed by the CFIUS while also denying links to the Venezuelan government. The company disclosed that it was owned by Antonio Mugica (78.8%), Alfredo Anzola (3.87%), Roger Pinate (8.47%), Jorge Massa Dustou (5.97%) and employees (2.89%). Smartmatic subsequently sold Sequoia and later withdrew from Cook County in December 2006.
The Wall Street Journal wrote that "Smartmatic scrapped a simple corporate structure" of being based in Boca Raton "for a far more complex arrangement" of being located in multiple locations following the Sequoia incident. Though Smartmatic has made differing statements saying that they were either American or Dutch based, the United States Department of State stated that its Venezuelan owners "remain hidden behind a web of holding companies in the Netherlands and Barbados". The New York Times states that "the role of the young Venezuelan engineers who founded Smartmatic has become less visible" and that its organization is "an elaborate web of offshore companies and foreign trusts", while BBC News states that though Smartmatic says the company was founded in the United States, "its roots are firmly anchored in (Venezuela)". Multiple sources simply state that Smartmatic is a Venezuelan company. Smartmatic maintains that the holding companies in multiple countries are used for "tax efficiency".
An eyewitness testified in a sworn affidavit,
|"the software and fundamental design of the electronic electoral system and software of Dominion and other election tabulating companies relies upon software that is a descendant of the Smartmatic Electoral Management System. In short, the Smartmatic software is in the DNA of every vote tabulating company’s software and system.
22. Dominion is one of three major companies that tabulates votes in the United States. Dominion uses the same methods and fundamentally same software design for the storage, transfer and computation of voter identification data and voting data. Dominion and Smartmatic did business together. The software, hardware and system have the same fundamental flaws which allow multiple opportunities to corrupt the data and mask the process in a way that the average person cannot detect any fraud or manipulation. The fact that the voting machine displays a voting result that the voter intends and then prints out a paper ballot which reflects that change does not matter. It is the software that counts the digitized vote and reports the results. The software itself is the one that changes the information electronically to the result that the operator of the software and vote counting system intends to produce that counts. That’s how it is done. So the software, the software itself configures the vote and voting result -- changing the selection made by the voter. The software decides the result regardless of what the voter votes."
2016 Utah Republican caucus
In the 2016 Utah Republican caucus, where Utah Republicans voted to choose the party’s nominee for president in the 2016 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 Republican Party 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!
Smartmatic affiliations with government politicians raised suspicions, with instances of an interior vice minister, Morris Loyo Arnáez, being hired to lobby for Smartmatic contracts and with the company paying for the National Electoral Council (CNE) president Jorge Rodríguez Jorge Rodríguez and his sister Delcy Rodríguez to stay at the Boca Raton Resort & Club in Boca Raton, Florida. Vice Minister Loyo was paid $1.5 million by Smartmatic as a "sales commission" and his continual payments with the company eventually doubled.
A lawyer who had worked with Rodríguez, Moisés Maiónica, was allegedly employed by Smartmatic in order to provide legal and financial assistance to help with its selection for its 2004 elections. Years after the election in December 2008, Maiónica pled guilty in the United States District Court for attempting to cover up the Suitcase scandal (Maletinazo scandal), an incident where Hugo Chávez attempted to finance Cristina Kirchner's 2007 Argentine Presidential Election campaign to influence Argentina's presidential election, with Maiónica stating that he was working for Venezuela's spy agency, the National Directorate of Intelligence and Prevention Services.
After the presidential recall referendum of 2004 in Venezuela, a controversy was raised about the use of electronic voting (SAES voting machines). Studies following the 2004 Venezuela recall elections found that Smartmatic's network was "bi-directional" with data being able to be transferred both ways between Smartmatic devices and the telecommunications company CANTV, with alleged irregularities found between the Smartmatic and Venezuela's National Electoral Council election results. Other independent election monitors claimed electoral fraud and submitted appeals, and statistical evaluations including a peer-reviewed article in 2006 and a special section of 6-peer-reviewed article in 2011 concluded that it was likely that electronic election fraud had been committed.
After 4 years of research and 3 years of undergoing intensive peer review, mathematics Professor Gustavo Delfino’s published a paper in the highly respected Statistical Science journal, November 2011 issue (Volume 26, Number 4) with the title Analysis of the 2004 Venezuela Referendum: The Official Results Versus the Petition Signatures. The intensive study used multiple mathematical approaches to ascertain the voting results found in the 2004 Venezuelan referendum. Delfino and his research partners discovered not only the algorithm used to manipulate the results, but also the precise location in the election processing sequence where vulnerability in machine processing would provide such an opportunity. According to Prof Delfino, the magnitude of the difference between the official and the true result in Venezuela estimated at 1,370,000 votes.
Prior to the 2005 Venezuela parliamentary election, one technician could work around "the machine's allegedly random storage protocols" and remove voting secrecy. Since the voting systems were Windows based and only randomized data, the technician was able to download a simple software that could place Windows files in order. Following this revelation, voter turnout dropped substantially with only 25% of registered Venezuelans voting and opposition parties withdrawing from the election. This resulted in Hugo Chávez's party, as well as his allied parties, to control 100% of Venezuela's National Assembly.
Smartmatic has been criticized by various entities for its motives and handling of elections in the Philippines. In opinion polls, voters have approved of Smartmatic's automated system used by Comelec, with 84% of respondents stating that they had "big trust" in the automated process according to a June 2019 Pulse Asia Research poll.
The Manila Times has stated that Smartmatic's system was unreliable, glitchy and vulnerable to tampering. After the newspaper reported that Smartmatic had been funneling voter information through "unofficial servers", The Manila Times ultimately called on officials from the country's electoral body, Comelec, to resign. William Yu of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, an election NGO, stated that such servers perform "many other activities before the elections" and that it "does not necessarily, automatically mean that data has been transmitted", though he requested that Comelec and Smartmatic provide an explanation.
In early 2017, The Manila Times reported that Smartmatic machines were equipped with SD cards where voter entries are recorded, citing Glenn Chong, a former congressman of the NGO Tanggulang Demokrasya (TANDEM) stating that "at least one SD card was tampered with", allegedly showing that Smartmatic's system was "very much open to hijacking or sabotage". A reviewer of the Philippine Linux Users’ Group stated that hacking into Smartmatic's system is "very difficult for outsiders" and that "it’s not as difficult to hack into the system if you’re a Comelec or a group of Comelec or Smartmatic personnel", expressing the importance of monitoring by Comelec and asking the public to have good faith in the electoral body.
The IBON Foundation, a non-profit research organization based in the Philippines also criticized Smartmatic's system, stating in 2016 that "Why Smartmatic keeps on winning Comelec contracts boggles the mind especially considering the numerous and major malfunctions by the machines and services that Smartmatic provided in the past two elections" and that there were "allegations of rigged bidding to favor Smartmatic such as designing contracts where only Smartmatic can qualify or omitting requirements that will otherwise disqualify Smartmatic".
Prior to the elections, Filipino-Americans called on President Barack Obama to investigate the background of Smartmatic prior to the elections due to its links to the Venezuelan government. Smartmatic described these actions as "trying to rehash a story based on market share". Following allegations of fraud, some employees of Smartmatic had their passports temporarily held. At a fraud inquiry on May 20, 2010, Heider Garcia of Smartmatic was questioned on the transparency and what he called "unforeseen" occurrences during the election process, with Philippine official Teodoro Locsin Jr. – an automated poll advocate – sharply rebuking Garcia. On June 29, 2010, the Philippine Computer Society (PCS) filed a complaint with the country's Ombudsman against 17 officials of the Commission on Elections and the Smartmatic-TIM Corp. for alleged “incompetence,” graft and unethical conduct.
Days after the May 2016 elections, Bongbong Marcos alleged that Smartmatic had tampered with the votes which cost him being elected Vice President of the Philippines and criminal proceedings were filed by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) against Comelec personnel as well as Smartmatic employees, with Election Commissioner Rowena Guanzon stating that Smartmatic had violated protocols. After a Smartmatic employee fled the country, Bongbong Marcos accused the Comelec for his "escape", though two other Smartmatic personnel, one from Venezuela and the other from Israel, were present for criminal proceedings. In July 2016, it was reported that Smartmatic funneled votes through "unofficial servers". In an October 2016 editorial, The Manila Times called on all members of Comelec to resign due to the "innumerable controversies since its adoption of the Smartmatic-based Automated Election System".
On June 7, 2017, the Philippine Department of Justice indicted "several Smartmatic and Comelec personnel for changing the script in the election transparency server on election night during the May 2016 national and local polls". Those charged with the tampering include Marlon Garcia, the head of the Smartmatic's Technical Support Team, as well as two other Smartmatic employees, Neil Baniqued and Mauricio Herrera, and Comelec IT employees Rouie Peñalba, Nelson Herrera, and Frances Mae Gonzales. The six were charged with "illegal access, data interference, and system interference" under the Cybercrime Prevention Act.
In August 2017, it was revealed that Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista was allegedly paid commissions by Divina Law while serving as chairman "for assisting the law firm clients with the Comelec". Divina Law, a firm that provides legal advice to Smartmatic. Bautista admitted that he obtained "referral fees", but denied that it was due to his position in Comelec. According to House Deputy Minority Leader Harry Roque, the incident is "a very clear case of bribery" by Smartmatic.
From the Philippines to Texas
Heider Garcia received his engineering degree in Venezuela in 2003. he worked for Smartmatic for 12 years. In 2010, Garcia testified during a fraud investigation into the Smartmatic software in the Philippines election. In a video released of a raucous hearing Garcia was questioned on what he called euphemistically called “unforeseen” occurrences during the election.
After the Philippine rigged election scandal, Garcia fled the country and moved to the United States and became the Democrat Elections Administrator in 2018 for Tarrant County, Texas, which includes Fort Worth. In 2019, Tarrant County purchased new election machines. In October 2020, during early voting, Tarrant County had to rescan thousands of ballots due to a supposed barcode discrepancy. On November 3, 2020 Tarrant County for a Democrat presidential candidate for the first time since 1964.
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