On statistical improbability, transparency and the PPCRV-KBP canvas

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Press statement

May 13, 2013

 

As the electoral count continues, questionable results yielded by the PPCRV-KBP’s canvassing servers underscore the problems with the Smartmatic Automated Election System (AES).  Without the benefit of public disclosure of the AES source code and thorough pre-testing, these statistically wrong results put the whole canvassing of votes into serious question.  Any results from hereon are now questionable.

 

Earlier, the PPCRV-KBP transparency server flashed on national television a numerically improbable total of around 10 million votes for the top senatorial spot while reporting only a total of 1,418 precincts. The error is significant, as a maximum of 1,000 voters per precinct should only yield a total of around 1,418,000 maximum votes.

 

The PPCRV-KBP later flashed another number which showed the top senatorial vote to be 4.8 million. How the adjusted figure was arrived at is not clear at this point.

 

Media reports that there appears to be a problem with the script of the canvassing program, which is attributable to Smartmatic. PPCRV meanwhile says that the data was not correctly formatted and was double counted. Smartmatic was reported to have changed the script of the source code during the canvassing to adjust the bloated figures. That Smartmatic can change the script of the source code during the canvassing shows serious problems with the entire automated system.

 

PPCRV should suspend releasing unofficial tallies until Smartmatic sufficiently explains the bloated figures and how this was corrected.

 

A similar problem happened in 2010, when the total registered voters in the canvassing server reached up to 153 million which was more than the population of the Philippines at that time. Smartmatic supposedly changed the source code on the fly on election day of 2010.

 

Without a genuine source code review of the canvassing and consolidation server (CCS), the public can never know what Smartmatic’s system for tallying and canvassing votes really is. It appears that they can also change the source code on the spot, which makes the whole election system a questionable and problematic exercise.

 

Comelec and Smartmatic explained this away as a technical problem involving the script that does the totals from the PCOS machines. This explanation does nothing to build transparency and accountability. We have no independent guarantee that the votes were not tampered by the PCOS machine or the server.

 

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