Final testing and sealing fails to build confidence, reinforces fears

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PCOS machine at the UPIS precinct already sealed and had thermal paper even before the final testing and sealing

 

Kontra Daya

Press statement

May 6, 2013

 

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) intends to use today’s final testing and sealing (FTS) to assure the public of the credibility of the upcoming polls and the reliability of the automated election system (AES). Unfortunately, the results of the FTS merely reinforced the widespread public fear on the possible failure of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines and the entire AES to provide credible results.

 

Kontra Daya has monitored various problems during the FTS that could undermine the May 2013 polls. The problems also reflect the poor preparations of the Comelec.

 

First, the Comelec failed to implement the basic requirements of the FTS. Several cases of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) not having the needed materials to properly seal the PCOS machines have been reported. Some BEI members were reported to have been forced to use packing tapes as an alternative. We should note that the proper sealing of the PCOS machines is crucial in ensuring that they are not tampered with prior to election day. Furthermore, we should also emphasize that the FTS did not include the transmission of votes, again as required under AES guidelines. Thus, we did not have the chance to correctly assess the dependability of the transmission network that will be used on May 13.

 

Second, the PCOS machines displayed serious errors during the FTS. In one case, the machine counted even wrongly shaded ballots, including over-voting on party-list groups. Another case had the PCOS machine counting one vote less for senatorial and local bets as compared to the manual count. This brings us to the issue of the integrity and reliability of the source code to be used on May 13. The serious consequences of the failure of the Comelec to have the source code reviewed and scrutinized by political parties and independent experts are beginning to show. While Comelec chair Sixto Brillantes announced today that the source code will now be available for review, the problem is the lack of sufficient time to thoroughly scrutinize it given that the elections are just one week away.

 

Third, while the upcoming elections are already our second attempt to implement the AES, many members of the BEI apparently still do not have adequate training. The FTS in many areas were delayed because BEI members could not properly operate the PCOS machine and/or unfamiliar with the FTS process.

 

Fourth, other problems like the precarious power supply situation in Mindanao threaten the conduct of the elections. Our field monitors in the region reported that the FTS in various areas were either cancelled or very much delayed due to intermittent power supply interruption. While the PCOS machines have their own power supply, Comelec should still outline a contingency measure in light of the power crisis in the region.

 

We reiterate our call for the public to remain vigilant and closely monitor the developments on the May 2013 elections. In today’s FTS, we witnessed how an AES controlled by private, foreign corporations combined with a Comelec that refuses to heed the public clamor to ensure that the security requirements mandated under the Automated Election Law are sufficiently implemented could seriously undermine the exercise of our sovereignty as a people.

 

For some of the incidents monitored by Kontra Daya in various precincts during the final testing and sealing (FTS) today, you may click this link or check @kontradaya on Twitter

 

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