Venezuela’s presidential election, 2012: Audits and tests

In Venezuela, the voting system is audited before, during and after each election.

For this one, Venezuela’s national electoral council, the CNE (Consejo Nacional Electoral), organised several software and hardware evaluations of the voting machines, as well as evaluations of the transmission and result tallying systems. Technical representatives from the different political organisations oversaw all of them.

17 audits took place this year: four new ones, one that has been reformulated and twelve similar to those carried out in previous elections.

The new tests included audits to the fingerprint database and the voter flow points, to the laptop computers that were placed in the centers to measure voter participation, and to the hardware and software.

First technical simulation (28 April)

This first internal test allowed us to measure in real-time two proposed voting scenarios in order to evaluate the engineering of the polling stations using the biometric authentication device. The aim was to define, and later approve, the procedure to be followed, creating a secure and swift voting experience.

Second technical simulation (14 July)

This test measured the time it took voters to go through the polling stations using the biometric authentication biometric device. This is now a permanent element of the Venezuelan voting system, together with the voting machines and the electronic voting pads.

End-to-end test (29 July)

Carried out to verify that the electoral platform and logistical planning are in top shape for the election.

National simulation (2 September)

A nation-wide technical test, in which the technological and logistical elements were tested. The National Electoral Council deployed 4,832 voting machines with their electronic ballots and biometric authentication devices in 1,553 voting centers around the country, so citizens had a chance to test the electoral platform.

Pre-dispatch audit (30 September)

Completely reformulated, this new pre-dispatch audit replicated the electoral process. This test was conducted a week before the elections with 1400 voters using randomly selected voting machines. The CNE drove the voters and polling station members to Smartmatic warehouses. Representatives of the political parties acted as witnesses in the selected polling stations.

Other audits and tests:

Preliminary electoral registry audits (8 July)
Poll books production audit (24-28 July)
Poll books audits (6-10 August)
Voting machine software certification audits (20-24 August)
Voting machine data audit (27-28 August)
Voting machine production audits (31 August-30 September)
Tallying software certification audit (10-14 September)
Biometric system audits (17 September)
Electoral infrastructure audits (17 September)
Citizen verification (7 October)
Final audit (15 & 16 October)