The top of an digital voting firm being focused by allies of U.S. President Donald Trump stated baseless claims that it helped flip the 2020 election for Joe Biden threatens to undermine Individuals’ religion in democracy.
Antonio Mugica, CEO of Florida-based Smartmatic, stated for years he watched as democracy in his native Venezuela was destroyed by lies and conspiracy theories pushed from the best ranges of the nation’s socialist authorities.
Now he fears many Individuals are being too complacent within the face of the same disinformation marketing campaign.
“When a candidate questions the election in some emerging market, in Africa or South America, it stays there. It doesn’t affect the entire planet,” Mugica stated in an interview with The Related Press. “Now, the role model is that if you lose, you basically say you didn’t lose. You say you were cheated.”
Final week, Smartmatic started sending letters to Fox Information, Rudy Giuliani and different Trump allies threatening authorized motion until they absolutely retract baseless claims that software program developed by a U.S. affiliate it offered greater than a decade in the past altered the result of the U.S. election.
No proof of voter fraud
Reality-checkers on the AP and different shops have debunked the far-fetched claims, whereas Trump’s personal legal professional common and cybersecurity officers have discovered no proof of voter fraud.
However Trump’s allies proceed to press forward. Final week, former Trump legal professional Sidney Powell appeared on Fox Enterprise’ Lou Dobbs to accuse Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s former chief of workers of being the ringleader of what she known as a “Cyber Pearl Harbor” involving Smartmatic.
Smartmatic, in its 20-page letter despatched to Fox’s authorized counsel on Friday, stated the “demonstrably false and defamatory” statements might have simply been disproven by a easy web search.
“The damage your disinformation campaign has done, and will do, to Smartmatic’s revenue and business valuation will be measured in the hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars,” stated the letter, a replica of which was supplied to the AP.
Firm being represented by high defamation lawyer
Neither Giuliani, Powell nor Fox Information responded to a request for remark.
Letters had been additionally being despatched on Smartmatic’s behalf to pro-Trump TV networks Newsmax and One America Information. The corporate is being represented by Erik Connolly, a Chicago-based lawyer behind among the greatest defamation circumstances of late.
Mugica stated talks with electoral authorities in Colombia, a market the corporate has been making an attempt to enter for years, instantly stalled after the false experiences had been aired.
“We have a pipeline for the next five years that’s worth billions of dollars and we know some of that business is going to be lost,” stated Mugica.
However it’s not simply earnings driving the corporate’s protest.
Firm officers, household being threatened
Mugica stated that firm officers and their relations, together with the 14-year-old son of his co-founder, have been the goal of menacing cellphone calls, e-mails and social media posts within the wake of the false experiences.
“We saw the real damage disinformation caused to Venezuela much before it was in vogue in the rest of the world,” stated Mugica.
Nonetheless, Mugica stated he is aware of that in all conspiracy theories there’s “a grain of truth that can be turned into a weird monster from someone’s imagination. That’s why they are so effective.”
Smartmatic’s preliminary success is partly attributable to main contracts from Chavez’s authorities, an early devotee of digital voting.
However there has by no means been any proof the corporate rigged votes in favour of the anti-American firebrand and for some time the Carter Middle and different observers held Venezuela up as a mannequin of digital voting.
The claims by Trump allies of meddling by Smartmatic rely partially on sworn testimony from an unnamed witness matching the outline of a former Chavez bodyguard. Captain Leamsy Salazar is an ex-Marine who fled to the U.S. in 2014 and accused high officers of drug-trafficking.
In an affidavit accompanying a since-dismissed lawsuit in Georgia filed by Powell, the witness claims to have been current when votes forged on Smartmatic machines had been being tabulated in the course of the tight Venezuelan presidential election of 2013.
That contest was marred by accusations of voting irregularities by opposition hardliners within the deeply polarized South America nation however with no proof of digital tampering.
Furthermore, Smartmatic broke all ties with Venezuela in 2017, when it denounced electoral fraud by Maduro, although the Trump staff now accuses it of working to elect Biden.
In the meantime, the corporate has expanded globally and has helped perform elections in 25 nations, from Argentina to Zambia in addition to a number of European nations.
Within the 2020 U.S. election, Smartmatic expertise was utilized in a single district — Los Angeles County, Calif. It has no current ties to Dominion Voting Methods, a rival that the Trump staff has accused of being a part of the plot.
“As a lawyer, journalist, a chef — anything — and you’re from Venezuela you already have this kind of bad smell,” stated Mugica. He stated he had spent the final 20 years constructing his agency since leaving Venezuela in 2000 and “we’ve never seen ourselves as a Venezuelan company.”