May 3, 2016
Reference: Dr. Giovanni Tapang, Kontra Daya Convenor
The integrity of the poll exercise on May 9 has been left by the Comelec to wishful thinking. It has failed to address vulnerabilities that pose great danger to the security and accuracy of the counting of our votes. It has opened avenues for cheating and disenfranchisement and has eroded even further the credibility of the upcoming polls.
First, the Comelec itself failed to get a certification of its automated election system from the independent Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) for the 2016 election. It has not given a satisfactory source code review. A preview of what may happen on election day can be seen in the multiple malfunctions of the vote counting machines (VCM) in the overseas absentee voting process (OAV) happening in the US, Canada, Italy and Rome. So far, thirteen (13) of the 130 machines deployed overseas have malfunctioned already; these comprise 10% of the VCM used in the OAV. As the election day on May 9 nears, this high failure rate of the VCMs is worrisome as this tells us that as high as one out of ten machines can fail.
Second, the election returns that will be sent for canvassing are not authenticated. The election automation law itself requires that the election returns be digitally signed prior to sending but the Comelec has not enabled this. Digital signing would prevent tampering of the precinct results as it is canvassed. Without it, we will have no assurance that the numbers being tallied are correct and reflective of the actual vote.
Third, the Comelec has set its transmission targets to only 90% of the 92,509 polling precincts nationwide reflecting the vulnerability of the canvassing process. Instead of trying to address the issue of the lack of poor signal and geography, the Comelec instead allows the physical delivery of the memory card from the precinct to the canvassing machine in order to be consolidated and canvassed. This Comelec “hack” opens up to scenarios of modern-day ballot box snatching where it would be the SD cards that will be stolen and replaced to affect the results. Without the digital signing safety feature in place, the canvassing servers would integrate the results of SD cards brought to it. In 2013, only 76% of the polling precincts were able to transmit their results.
Fourth, the Comelec has allowed various amendments to its rules such as allowing the replacement of ballots, the rule against frivolous objections, and even allowing presidential and vice-presidential candidates to use nicknames that ride on governments’ resources and slogans. Mar Roxas and Leni Robredo have both used ‘DAANG MATUWID’ as their nicknames making them direct beneficiaries of government support in every poster and program that the same ‘DAANG MATUWID’ is used. This is in violation of Comelec’s own rules on the matter of nicknames and use of government resources.
The replacement of ballots during election day rests on the assumption that there will be less than 100% voter turnout on May 9. It also assumes that the turn out rate is the same throughout the country. In precincts that have near 100% turnout, voter disenfranchisement could occur.
With the rule against frivolous objections, anyone who complains finding their voter verification data different than it should be can be slapped by the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) with an election offence rendering vote verification useless as a check for fraud.
Fifth, the hacking of the Comelec website on March 27 that compromised election data and the private information of 55 million voters has not been satisfactorily addressed. This debacle can lead to impersonation and vote manipulation. It also shows us how callous the Comelec is to security of its own systems. It erodes our trust in the whole election system.
Worse, the Comelec has allowed a foreign entity to handle our election system and has taken everything Smartmatic says hook, line and sinker and without question. It has bent backwards to accommodate what Smartmatic wants rather than enforcing what should have been done for a credible automated election system.
Using the Comelec’s vulnerable automation system amidst a culture of entrenched political influence, entrenched political machinery and the rule of guns, goons and gold will not produce results that will genuinely reflect the people’s will but will reflect that same culture of violence, cheating and traditional politics that is still rampant in our country.
Comelec’s wishful thinking, either by its wilful neglect or being partisan, will not bring us to better polls. It is only through our organised vigilance and readiness to act that we can prevent this impending fraud this coming May 9. ###