Kontra Daya Bulletin, May 11, 2022

Machine errors, illegal campaigning remain widespread; VCM breakdowns prove AES a failure

Kontra Daya and Vote Report PH continue to receive and verify reports of election incidents throughout the country. Out of the more than 4,000 reports received, 1,370 have been verified by volunteers.

Machine failures continue to make up a significant percentage of election incidents. Kontra Daya has received 577 reports of machine failures from Luzon to Mindanao, accounting for 42% of total reported incidents. Machines have been seen rejecting ballots, failing to issue receipts or breaking down entirely, resulting in long lines and significant delays in voting.

Even after polls closed at 7:00 pm on election day (May 9), voters could still be seen waiting in line for replacement vote counting machines (VCMs) and SD cards to arrive at their precincts to be able to feed their own ballot. At a polling precinct in Teacher’s Village, Quezon City, a replacement VCM only arrived on the morning of Tuesday, May 10. Some areas were forced to conduct manual voting in lieu of replacement machines.

Kontra Daya also received 152 reports of illegal campaigning, 109 reports of vote buying and 66 reports of red tagging. This proves that despite statements by COMELEC to the contrary, the 2022 elections continue to be plagued with incidents of fraud and disinformation.

Increased election incidents expose rottenness of automated elections

Kontra Daya maintains that the massive amount of reports received this year only serves to prove the failure of the automated election system in guarding the sanctity of the ballot.

Widespread reports of machine errors and breakdowns can be attributed by a failure of the COMELEC, its election system contractor Smartmatic, and its logistics provider F2 Logistics to ensure timely, thorough and transparent testing of voting machines.

It is difficult for voters to be confident in election proceedings marred by machine errors and breakdowns, as these cast doubt on the capacity of the machine to count their votes. This can be attested by reports of voters refusing to hand over their ballots to election officials, choosing instead to wait for replacement voting machines until the early hours of the morning to be sure that their votes are cast. There have also been multiple reports of gaps in election procedures, such as incorrect manner of storage of ballots and receipts.

The proprietary source code of the VCMs and the lack of a genuine source code review process cast more doubt on the accuracy of the election results. As the software and hardware of the machines are both owned and protected by Smartmatic, it is difficult to completely vet the process by which the machines count the votes.

Right from the start, Kontra Daya has remained critical of the conduct of automated elections in the country for its lack of transparency and accountability. The COMELEC must replace the current automated election system with one that is transparent, open source and locally made. An election system that maximizes local talent and allows for greater public scrutiny will allow voters to be confident that their vote has been correctly cast and counted.

Kontra Daya continues to hold Comelec, Smartmatic and F2 Logistics accountable for the widespread failure of election equipment, and calls for an investigation to ensure that those responsible will be held accountable.

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