As generally known, to achieve clean, honest, fair, accurate and transparent elections, the electoral process must demonstrate: Secrecy and sanctity of the ballot; transparency; credibility; and fast and accurate results that reflect the people’s will. Elections, excluding campaigns, have the following distinct processes: Voter’s registration; casting of ballot; counting of votes at precincts; canvassing of votes; and declaration of winners. Of the five processes, only counting and canvassing may be automated or electronically tallied. Prior to the advent of Smartmatic, everything was manual, with counting of votes taking several hours or more, and canvassing, several weeks or more, before national candidates were declared winners.
Cheating generally happens in canvassing (“dagdag bawas,” etc.), and occasionally, in precincts controlled by political warlords. With the advent of Smartmatic, counting and canvassing were automated two elections back. Counting was reduced to, perhaps, minutes; canvassing to several hours. Thus, the process initially elicited public perception that the automated elections were a “success.”
Subsequently, many issues were raised. Some sectors claimed controls to ensure accurate tally were lost or not enforced, such as: No independent or public review of the source code; the CF or memory cards were rewriteable (meaning the application program, if correct, could be altered); no digital signatures for election officials; no security features on the ballots, etc. Then, there were allegations of 60-30-10 voting pattern and election victory for sale.
But the most telling blow against the integrity of the automated elections was the removal of the manual precinct count and its replacement with PCOS (Precinct Count Optical Scan) tally. This has effectively deprived the voters and the parties of their right to witness and ensure that their votes are properly counted.
Germany reportedly reverted back to manual precinct counting in 2009 after its Constitutional Court banned electronic voting machines, used in previous years, on the principle that every single vote has to be read out loudly and noted in a public protocol, with transparency as key. Why can’t we?