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Votes for butter: Rigging an election in Venezuela

People line up for food in Caracas. Photo: FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images

Let’s imagine that you are hungry. So hungry, in fact, that you have lost more than 20 pounds over the past year because of a political and humanitarian crisis caused by your government. Now let’s imagine that a representative of that government shows up with boxes of food. You can have one of the boxes, but only if you can prove — by scanning your national ID card — that you voted in the last election, which they rigged to keep themselves in power. 

Why it matters: This dystopian scenario is playing out daily in Venezuela, where the government of President Nicolas Maduro has harnessed the power of technology to turn food into an instrument of repression.