When Smartmatic started in April 2000, it offered its services to banks. The move to election security came after company founder and CEO Antonio Mugica was in Palm Beach County during the 2000 elections. “We were in the front row and saw this circus,” he said. “And it really impressed us all.”
The company has succeeded in bringing its electronic voting machines, online voting platforms and software products to elections around the world. It was also used in the 2016 Republican presidential campaign in Utah. In 2018, Los Angeles County chose Smartmatic to introduce a new voting system and its technology was used there in the March presidential primary and again in the general election.
After election day, the company’s name, along with the Dominion name, became an integral part of the fraud conspiracies promoted by right-wing media. Smartmatic employees and their family members received threats, including death threats, some of which were included in the complaint.
“I had one where I was told they were actually going to kidnap me in London, which is where I was at the time,” said Mugica. “You sent three people. “Plane lands tomorrow.”
Another threat was directed against the teenage son of the company’s co-founder, Roger Piñate. “They were able to find his cell phone number, which is scary enough,” said Mugica. “And to call him on the phone and threaten him.”
Smartmatic’s complaint argues that promoting debunked theories about the elections undermined democracy.
“You are not only looking at the impact of the behavior on the plaintiff, but also the broader impact that messaging can have, and that is the broader impact of that,” said J. Erik Connolly, an attorney representing Smartmatic. “If you are giving punitive damages that are largely aimed at saying, ‘Don’t do this again,’ that is a broader message. That is relevant to a broader message that a court or jury should be sending here.”
Edmund Lee contributed to the coverage. Kitty Bennett contributed to the research.