May 11, 2016
Both Comelec and Smartmatic should explain to the Filipino taxpayers and to Congress the serious glitches that marred the May 9 national elections. The Commission on Elections (Comelec) admitted yesterday 2,363 or 2.55 percent of 92,509 vote counting machines (VCMs) used throughout the country malfunctioned during the elections with at least 150 units replaced.
The Philippine government should withhold the remainder of the P8 billion payment to the foreign private firm Smartmatic. We call on the Philippine government to ban Smartmatic from future Philippine elections. Allowing a foreign firm to run an exercise of Philippine sovereignty is an anomaly. Allowing the same firm to run our elections three times with the same problems is a tragedy.
Even the so-called 90% transmission rate being reported by the Comelec on May 9 and 10 is deceptive. In many cases reported by media, the VCM’s could not transmit from the precincts as promised by Smartmatic. Many election returns were brought to the canvassing centers where the SD cards were manually uploaded. These however would appear in the Comelec transparency servers as “transmitted” results. Comelec and Smartmatic should disclose how many returns were actually transmitted from the precincts and who many were manually brought and uploaded at the canvassing centers.
The Philippine government should once and for all end Smartmatic’s involvement in Philippine elections. From the 2010 to 2016, Smartmatic has bagged election contracts worth more than P18 billion.
According to the Comelec, in the 2013 elections, 4,760 out of 77,829 precinct count optical scan (Pcos) machines malfunctioned, with 171 needing replacement. During the 2010 elections, 1,966 out of 76,347 PCOS machines had glitches and 205 had to be replaced.
Comelec and Smartmatic are to blame for the vote counting machine (VCM) malfunctions that were reported in many areas around the country. These failures were in the form of non-functioning VCMs, rejected ballots, paper jams, overheating and machine shutdowns. The VCM failures were reported amidst of other incidents such as widespread vote buying, harassment and disenfranchisement.
The poll body and the foreign private contractor have repeatedly ignored and brushed away concerns about the vulnerability and lack of end-to-end testing and certification of the VCM.
In some cases when machines malfunction, BEI’s have asked voters to leave their filled ballots and have these fed in to the VCM’s once a replacement machine is available. This opens up the voting process to all sorts of tampering and possibly fraud. This also defeats the purpose of printing receipts so that the voters could verify their votes.
By bending backwards to a foreign entity to handle our election system and failing to learn from the errors in previous poll automation exercises, Comelec in collusion with Smartmatic not only worsened the vulnerability of the automated elections and opened the backdoors to fraud that perpetuates the culture of violence, cheating and traditional politics that is still rampant in our country. ###