The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is adopting additional security features in the ballots to be used in the coming May 2019 midterm elections to ensure their integrity and credibility. “The ballots will have the normal security features like marks, barcodes and a few others,” Comelec spokesman James Jimenez disclosed in an interview over the weekend. One of the additional features is machine-readable ultraviolet (UV) markings on the ballots, he said. “UV marks can be read by machine and if not readable it will then be rejected,” Jimenez said. He declined to discuss the other features for security reasons.Full Article: Ballots to have additional security features | Philstar.com.
Articles about voting issues in the Republic of the Philippines.
Starting with the 2019 mid-term elections, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will use an automated system of verifying the identity of voters. The Comelec on Tuesday started the bidding process for the P1.1-billion Voter Registration Verification Project, which will do away with the usual manual process of verification using printed copies of computerized voters’ list on Election Day. “So there will be no more discretion on the part of the electoral board or the Board of Election Inspector [BEI] as to the identity of the voter because just by finger-scanning the voter, the monitor will show if he or she is really the registered voter as listed in that particular precinct,” said Director J. Thaddeus Hernan, chairman of the Special Bids and Awards Committee (SBAC).Full Article: Comelec to automate voter verification - The Manila Times Online.
The Supreme Court, as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), recently ruled to do away with the contentious shading thresholds as basis for segregating ballots in the protest filed by former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr against Vice President Leni Robredo.
In a step that could fast-track the recount, justices of the tribunal unanimously agreed to refer to election returns (ERs) – the document reflecting totals from polling precincts – in determining how the votes would be credited to either candidates. “The Head Revisors are hereby directed to refer to the election returns to verity the total number of votes as read and counted by the Vote Counting Machines,” the 21-page resolution, promulgated on Tuesday, September 18, read. The resolution amends Rule 62 (Votes of the Parties) of the PET Revisor’s Guide, “effective immediately.” Its amended part now reads: “The segregation and classification of ballots shall be done by referring to the Election Return (ER) generated by the machine used in the elections.” Debate ends on 25% and 50% ballot shading thresholds: Marcos, who lost to Robredo by a narrow 263,473 votes in the 2016 vice presidential election, has identified 3 pilot provinces in his protest: Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental – the first one being Robredo’s home province, where she won overwhelmingly.Full Article: Marcos vs Robredo: Shading thresholds set aside in sorting out ballots.
The Philippines on Monday began a manual recount of votes in a vice presidential election after the son and namesake of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos contested the outcome, while the incumbent assured supporters her win was not in doubt. Ferdinand Marcos Jr, a former senator popularly known as Bongbong, is furious about having lost to Leni Robredo by about 260,000 votes in a May 2016 election he says was marred by massive cheating. Many political commentators believe Marcos has ambitions to become president one day, and wanted to use the vice presidency as a stepping stone. Opinion polls had shown him the clear leader ahead of the vote, which is separate from that for the presidency.Full Article: Philippines starts vote recount in Marcos son's contest for vice presidency.
Philippines: Comelec preparing for village polls amid fresh allegations of voting system breach | ABS-CBN
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday said it would continue preparations for the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections in May despite fresh allegations that the electronic voting system was “compromised” in 2016. In a press conference, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the poll body would push through with printing 18 million ballots for the village elections toward the end of the month or before the Holy Week. This despite new allegations of fraud that Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III bared on Tuesday, saying the 2016 elections may have been compromised.Full Article: Comelec preparing for village polls amid fresh allegations of voting system breach | ABS-CBN News.
No government in the world today, not even the United States, is prepared to fight hackers, a cybersecurity expert declared at a forum on cybersecurity, PilipinasCon 2018, in Taguig City this week. Elections worldwide are being hacked. “Every single counting machine is hackable,” said cybersecurity expert Marc Goodman. At a recent underground hacking conference, he said, 25 different counting machines were broken into remotely and directly. Filipino hackers, he added, committed the biggest government data breach in history when they broke into the Comelec’s voter database and published it online in April, 2016, a month before the election that year.Full Article: Hackers, a worldwide cybersecurity problem » Manila Bulletin News.
The Philippine electoral system is vulnerable to cyberattack and the government may not be prepared for it, an American cybersecurity expert has warned. Marc Goodman, founder of the Future Crimes Institute and chairman of policy, law and ethics at Silicon Valley’s Singularity University, said governments around the world, particularly the Philippines, were woefully unprepared for threats brought by the automation. The capability of the government to protect its cyber assets was placed in doubt after the “biggest data breach in history” in March 2016, when the database of voters was hacked by the Anonymous group more than a month before the May 2016 national elections.Full Article: Elections vulnerable to hacking – US expert - The Manila Times Online.
The son of former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos on Monday took a step towards securing a recount of votes in an election for vice president last year in which he says he was unfairly robbed of victory. The son, also called Ferdinand Marcos but popularly known as Bongbong, lost the election for vice president last May to social activist and lawyer Leni Robredo by about 260,000 votes. He has objected to the result ever since and the Supreme Court ruled in February that his protest was valid, but he has to pay for a recount of the votes.Full Article: Marcos son takes step towards recount of Philippine VP vote | Reuters.
The Philippine Supreme Court will allow a protest into the disputed election of the country’s vice president, giving the son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos a chance to prove his claim that he was robbed of the number two post. Social activist Leni Robredo was elected vice president in May 2016, winning by about 260,000 votes over Marcos’ son and namesake. Popularly known as Bongbong, he said he was the rightful winner and votes were stolen from him. Marcos had asked the court to order a recount of more than a million votes in the south and nullification of balloting in three provinces. Robredo in turn asked the court to reject his petition. On Thursday, Marcos released the court’s Jan. 24 ruling which found his petition “sufficient in form and substance”.Full Article: Philippine Supreme Court allows election recount for defeated Marcos | Reuters.
The Senate committee on electoral reforms is set to conduct an inquiry into the hacking of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) database, an incident considered the worst recorded breach on a government-held personal database in the world. In her Senate Resolution 260, electoral reforms committee chair Sen. Leila de Lima said there is a need to find the extent of damage the hacking caused to the voters’ database and the integrity of ordinary people’s personal information. “There is no denying that the Comelec data breach is unacceptable. Those responsible should be fully prosecuted and punished, whether they are foreign or domestic actors,” De Lima said, stressing that the breach is everyone’s problem. “Online lawlessness should be nipped at its bud,” she added.Full Article: Senate probe on ‘Comeleak’ set | Headlines, News, The Philippine Star | philstar.com.
What a difference one month makes. In December, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chair Andres Bautista basked in the glow of an agency that was hailed globally as the Electoral Commission of the Year for the successful May 9, 2016, polls. A month later, he was facing potential criminal prosecution over the March 2016 hacking of the Comelec website that has since been described as one of the worst breaches of a government-controlled database. The National Privacy Commission said on Thursday that Bautista had committed “gross negligence” under the Data Privacy Act of 2012, or Republic Act No. 10173. This came to light following an investigation of a “data breach” from March 20 to 27 last year. The breach exposed almost 77 million voter registration records. Sensitive information, such as voters’ full names, addresses, passport details and birthdays were posted on online platforms and a website that has since been taken down. So notorious was the event that it even has its own name: Comeleak.Full Article: Poll chief liable for ‘Comeleak’ | Inquirer News.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has announced that Smartmatic-Total Information Management Corp. would have no role in the ongoing diagnostics of the old precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines. Comelec chair Andres Bautista said the poll body opted not to adopt the plan of previous election officials to involve Smartmatic in the diagnostics project involving around 81,896 PCOS machines. Bautista explained that the Comelec is not obliged to include the technology provider, which served in that capacity in the last three automated national and local polls. “The PCOS machines came from Smartmatic, but it is already the property of the Comelec and the government of the Philippines,” he said.Full Article: Smartmatic out of PCOS diagnostics–Comelec | Inquirer News.
Philippines: AES hacking issue raised anew and Smartmatic’s demand for P2B payment | The Manila Times
On December 9, 2016, a number of news websites carried the news that President Barack Obama had ordered a full review of possible Russian hacking of the recent United States election. Questioning whether an automated election system (AES) can be hacked or not raises concerns about the integrity of the AES and the credibility of election results that the system generates. The Philippine experience in automating the elections is no different. Concerns were raised on possible vulnerabilities of the AES used in the last three elections. Everything happens inside the machine and those internal mechanisms are shielded from public observation But can the voting machines really be hacked? Just as in the US, none of the vote counting machines (VCMs) used in the Philippine elections is connected to the Internet; they connect to the transmission network only when they are ready to transmit the election returns to the city or municipal canvassing and consolidation system (CCS) and other servers. Hackers would not be able to hack into the VCMs since the transmission network is configured as a virtual private network with the appropriate security measures in place, and the time period to perform hacking activities is very short. Potentially, however, the CCS and other servers are exposed to possible attacks since the CCS and other servers are open for much longer periods while they wait to receive transmissions from the VCMs and CCS.Full Article: AES hacking issue raised anew and Smartmatic’s demand for P2B payment - The Manila Times Online.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday began returning more than 1,000 vote-counting machines (VCM) to its supplier despite opposition from former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. whose poll protest was based partly on allegations that the election results had been manipulated with the use of VCMs. In an urgent manifestation and motion on Oct. 21, Marcos asked the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) to “prohibit the poll body from releasing the subject VCMs” after the Comelec informed Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno it plans to return the machines to Smartmatic-TIM. The Marcos camp also asked the PET to determine whether these VCMs were used in the vice presidential race, which the former senator lost by about 260,000 votes to Leni Robredo, the Liberal Party candidate. On June 29, Marcos filed his electoral protest and asked the PET to stop Robredo’s inauguration. He said votes that were counted for Robredo were fraudulent, contesting the results in 39,221 clustered precincts in 25 provinces and five cities.Full Article: Comelec returns 1,000 VCMs to Smartmatic | INQUIRER.net.
The camp of Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Sunday blamed the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Bureau of Immigration for the “escape” of a Smartmatic emgineer facing criminal charges in connection with the May 9 elections. The Marcos camp had asked the Comelec to ask the Immigration bureau to issue a hold departure order (HDO) against all personnel of Smartmatic accused of violating the Cybercrime Law but the request was not granted. Smartmatic is the technology provider to last month’s local and national polls. The respondents were charged for their alleged involvement in unauthorized alteration of the script of the transparency server at the height of the transmission of votes just hours after voting closed.Full Article: Comelec hit for escape of Smartmatic engineer | The Manila Times Online.
Lawyers for Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. have questioned the unusually high number of “undervotes” in the vice presidential race as shown in Certificates of Canvass (COCs) opened on Wednesday, the first day of the official tally by Congress. “We have accounted ‘undervotes’ Your Honor, that’s totaling the votes cast for the Vice President vis-à-vis the votes cast by the voters, it would appear that such number was discovered from the COC Your Honor that totals 623,174,” one of the lawyers, George Garcia, said on Thursday. The discovery confirmed Marcos’ earlier complaint that 3.3 million “undervotes” were discovered in their own quick count, Garcia added. Because of questions involving the “undervotes,” only 45 of the 48 opened COC were officially included in the canvass.Full Article: Marcos questions high number of ‘undervotes’ | The Manila Times Online.
Whatever the outcome of Commission on Elections (Comelec)’s investigation on the unauthorized changes made by Smartmatic-Total Information Management Corp. (Smartmatic) in the transparency server used by the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), it is undeniable that the Venezuelan-owned company committed a serious violation not only of its supply contract but also of the country’s electoral laws. If only to show that our laws and rules are not to be trifled with, the harshest penalty possible ought to be imposed on Smartmatic – perpetual disqualification from any Philippine elections. After all, there are many (and bigger) providers of electronic voting systems in the world other than Smartmatic. Comelec chairman Andy Bautista’s explanation (surprisingly echoing Smartmatic’s excuse for lack of a better alibi) that the correction of the computer script of the Comelec transparency server was merely a “cosmetic change” and did not affect the poll results, is at best ill-informed and speculative, and at worst misleading. Well-intentioned or not, the supposedly “minor” change does not justify Smartmatic tampering with the electronic canvassing system, more so while the bulk of the voting results were being transmitted to the Comelec servers.Full Article: Is Smartmatic selling more than just VCMs? | The Manila Times Online.
The cascade of votes for Rep. Leni Robredo that allowed her to obliterate the almost one million lead of Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on May 10 looked strange and the “movement of the votes” appeared to have been manipulated, a statistics and political science analyst said on Tuesday. Antonio Contreras, Political Science professor at De La Salle University who also previously taught quantitative analysis at another university, said it was statistically impossible for Robredo to overtake Marcos in the race with 80 percent of the returns already counted.
Marcos was leading the count on the night of May 9 but his numbers and those for his closest rival Robredo were reversed in the early hours of May 10.
Top officials of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) and the Comelec service provider Smartmatic are facing election sabotage charges before the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) for allegedly changing the computer script (hash code) or program which may have altered the counting of the votes. Most of the respondents were not named in the 27-page complaint except for Henrieta de Villa of PPCRV and Marlon Garcia Smartmatic, the Venezuelan IT expert who allegedly changed the script together with unnamed Comelec technicians to accommodate the letter “ñ.” The complaint was filed jointly by the Mata sa Balota Movement (MBM)) and the Coalition of Clean Air Act of the Philippines which asked Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales to look into the hash code switch which they claimed seriously affected the integrity of the counting of the votes in the May 9 national and local elections.Full Article: Comelec, PPCRV, Smartmatic officials face election sabotage charges | mb.com.ph | Philippine News.
A controversial political leader, Rodrigo Duterte, has won the recently held presidential elections in The Philippines. He had undertaken an extremely inflammatory campaign, propagating draconian measures for handling issues related to drugs and crime. This 71-year-old leader, who has been a long-time mayor of the southern city of Davao, had used highly filthy and cuss-filled language during the election campaign. Although he spoke against laws on human rights and abused the Pope, he still won with a large popular support. Because of Duterte’s maverick approach and obvious comparisons with the US Presidential hopeful Donald Trump, media attention during this election remained focused more on various theatrics. Now, after the heat and dust of the election is over, it is important to analyse a few issues that did not receive adequate attention during the campaign phase, but which are vital not only from the perspective of The Philippines but globally as well. One such issue is cyber-attack on the database of The Philippines Election Commission. This attack is considered as the worst ever government data breach anywhere in the world.Full Article: Cyber Menace And Elections In The Philippines – Analysis – Eurasia Review.