Venezuela’s 2004 recall referendum: Smartmatic vs. previous technology

Why was Smartmatic’s technology better?

Unlike Venezuela's older voting system, which used optical scanners to read paper ballots, Smartmatic’s voting technology provided a Direct Recording Electronic system (DRE), with touchscreens and voter-verified paper audit trails.

With this system – which was developed for and deployed specifically for this referendum – the voting process is completely automated, affording more benefits than the previous, partially-automated system

For this referendum, a computer, or input device, records the vote and then securely transmits the results electronically to the tallying center, where votes are counted almost instantaneously. The voting machines in this type of system have integrated printers that provide a receipt, which voters then check for accuracy before placing in the ballot box. So the system was fast, accurate and auditable.

There were other reasons for replacing the old voting system. Costs for storage, spare parts and maintenance were high, as were the licensing costs to use the machines. More important, perhaps, was the fact that the old machines didn’t comply with Venezuela's Organic Law of Suffrage and Political Participation, which states: “the voting, scrutinizing, tallying and adjudication processes must be carried out in an automated way.”

There are yet still more reasons why this change in the electoral technology was a good option for Venezuela:
1) The contract between the Venezuelan Electoral Council and Smartmatic not only provided a safe and secure electronic voting system, but also provided for an experienced team to supervise the organization and execution of the project.
2) The use of the new technology saved the nation anywhere from 20 to 30 million US dollars, thanks to greatly reduced printing costs, much lower maintenance expenses, and the elimination of licensing fees.
3) Smartmatic's voting system, unlike its predecessor, offered a completely transparent process which is 100% auditable. It is completely immune to manipulation, alteration, or any other kind of interference.