The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has junked the use of the voter verification paper audit trail (VVPAT), one of the four minimum security requirements mandated by law, in the May 9 elections. The seven members of the Comelec en banc were unanimous in the decision to do away with the system that will provide a paper trail during the polls. Comelec Chairman Juan Andres Bautista made the disclosure on Tuesday during a hearing by the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Automated Election System and amid calls by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and election watchdogs to activate the security feature to ensure the integrity of the coming electoral exercise.
The VVPAT system allows voters to verify if their ballots were cast correctly through the issuance of a receipt, showing the names of candidates that they voted for. It serves as a deterrent against election fraud and provides a means to audit stored electronic results.
Voting counting machines have three other security features — digital signature, ballot verification or ultra violet detector and the source code review. The application of these features is mandated under Republic Act 9369 or the Automated Election Law.
The security features were part of the contract that the Comelec awarded to technology provider Smartmatic Corp., which supplied the 82,000 Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) counting machines that were used during the 2010 and 2013 elections. The Comelec did not activate the VVPAT during the elections in 2010 and 2013.