Comelec chief Sixto Brillantes will never allow a manual recount of even only the automated senatorial voting. He will do all to block it, from stunning his critics with the cost (“Pay up P200 million first”) to having presidential spokesmen speak for him (“We preferred to sweep the entire slate but we didn’t”). A manual recount is forbidden. For, it not only will confirm the statistically dubious 60-30-10 percent outcomes of winners and losers in all regions. It could also expose that there were more votes than voters. The discrepancy of votes and voters is the reason why both the precinct counting and the official canvassing were never completed. No politician is questioning for fear perhaps of the powerful Comelec, critics say. To recall, Brillantes on Election Day, May 13, declared a low 65-percent voter turnout, 33.8 million of the 52 million registered voters. It was only a midterm balloting, he said. The next day the seven Comelec commissioners convened as the national board of canvassers. Sluggishly they started with the advanced overseas votes, since undisclosed kinks were delaying the transmissions of local results to the central server. Then suddenly on Thursday, May 16th, they proclaimed six senators, and on Friday the 17th three more.
Election protests will soon be cheaper once the Commission on Elections (Comelec) decide to give losing candidates an option to use ballot images as basis for the recount. Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said this will be done by decrypting the image files from the compact flash cards. “This could save money for the protestant because he will only pay for the decryption and getting the (ballot) image,” he said. At present, the Comelec requires the presentation of contested ballots and ballot boxes in recount proceedings.
President Benigno Aquino III has signed into law a consolidated bill amending the Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003, allowing more overseas Filipinos worldwide to cast their votes in Philippine elections. The Chief Executive signed last May 27 the Republic Act 10590 (An Act Amending Republic Act 9189, Entitled “An Act Providing for a System of Overseas Absentee Voting by Qualified Citizens of the Philippines Abroad, Appropriating Funds Therefor and for Other Purposes.”) The Act otherwise known as “The Overseas Voting Act of 2013″ is a consolidation of Senate Bill 3312 and House Bill 6542. The Senate and the House of Representatives passed the consolidated measure on February 5, 2013 and February 6, 2013, respectively.
Philippines: Poll integrity questioned – CBCP Notes Large-Scale Vote-Buying, Disenfranchisement, Transmission Failures | Manila Bulletin
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma yesterday asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to seriously address questions raised regarding the conduct of the May 13 midterm polls. The Comelec should particularly explain why the second automated polls seemed to be “out of tune,” Palma said. He issued the call a day after the CBCP National Secretariat for Social Action (Nassa) issued a statement questioning the last elections. On Tuesday, the Catholic Church’s social action arm said the May elections was a “mockery of our democracy” and the results were “questionable, citing the large-scale vote-buying, disenfranchisement of voters, malfunction of voting machines, corrupted compact flash cards, and transmission failures among others. “Nassa is not blind to the glaring discrepancies and election violations, the highly-suspicious interventions during the canvassing, and the possible manipulation of election results during the lull hours of transmission, canvassing and consolidation of votes,” the statement reads. “In principle, there are many valid points raised because a lot of people thought the elections were okay, but we all know that like in music it was out of tune, which puts into question so many things,” said Palma.
Philippines: Comelec ‘shortcuts’ made votes vulnerable to manipulation – election watchdogs | Bulatlat
Dagdag-bawas (vote padding-shaving) became notorious during the manual counting of votes, especially during the 2004 presidential elections. But again, suspicions of dagdag-bawas are resurfacing because of what poll watchdogs described as numerous violations of the poll automation law. Given the preparation and decisions made by the Comelec — from avoiding real review of the source code of the programs being used to read votes and transmit the same, to disabling security features of poll automation at nearly every step – there are numerous potentials for automated cheating. Or in the language of IT experts of election watchdog AES Watch, instances when votes are ‘vulnerable to manipulation.’ As the canvassing of votes got stalled repeatedly by transmission problems and glitches, by Saturday May 1, or five days after elections, some 20-percent of election returns are still to be canvassed.
Malfunctioning precinct count optical scanners (PCOS) yesterday compounded the usual concerns of missing voter names, ballot switching, vote buying and violent incidents on election day. Officials of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), however, agreed that the conduct of elections in the Visayas yesterday was generally peaceful. In Western Visayas, PCOS machines in some precincts in at least 10 areas in Negros Occidental malfunctioned and delayed the voting process, said provincial elections supervisor Wil Arceño. In precincts where the machines were inoperable, the Board of Election Inspectors kept the ballots in a secured envelope to be counted by another machine. Affected were the towns of Pulupandan, Manapla, Ilog, Isabela, and La Castellana as well as the cities of Kabankalan, Cadiz, Silay, Bago and Bacolod. The machines either had defective memory cards or LCD (liquid crystal display) screens. Some did not accept the ballots and others overheated, said Mr. Arceño.
The review of the “source code” that will be used for the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines began at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Manila on Thursday. The source code refers to the readable computer program that will be used on the 82,000 PCOS machines for scanning ballots on Election Day. Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said the review would ensure the credibility of next Monday’s midterm elections. But senatorial candidate Richard Gordon, who has asked the Supreme Court to stop the elections on a question of the “honesty” of the source code, said that with only four days before the balloting, political parties do not have enough time to examine the source code.
It is now only a month to May 10, 2013. Yet the issue of the Smartmatic-PCOS automated electoral system is unresolved. There is no solution in sight that intelligent Filipino voters can expect an honest to goodness election. But Comelec is pushing it through. We need only review the events that led to a renewal of Smartmatic-PCOS contract to see that Comelec would not have it any other way. It was Smartmatic-PCOS by hook or by crook — deadlines were ignored, unsatisfactory bidding for services pushed and most of all quibbling about a source code. And in a last minute to consolidate its determination it says it will have the source code of the Dominion automated electoral system. It was supposedly used in 2010 but no one has actually seen it up to this day except insiders. What seems inevitable is a collision course between Comelec as government and the Filipino citizenry as electorate.
A political analyst in Manila has defended the use of optical-scan voting machines in the upcoming Philippine elections after a migrant-rights group questioned their reliability. Abu Dhabi and Dubai are among five Middle East cities where the automated system will be used by the Philippines’ Commission on Elections (Comelec). The others are Kuwait, Riyadh and Jeddah. Overseas voters have one month to cast their votes from April 13, while those in the Philippines will vote on election day, May 13. Precinct Count Optical Scan machines were first used in the May 2010 national elections.
The president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) believes the computerized voting machines successfully used in the 2010 elections are flawed and he wants them thoroughly examined before these are used in next year’s midterm elections. Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma’s doubts about the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines echo those of Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, who has been saying for some time that the voting machines are not perfect.