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The Automated Election Pitfalls Pointing To Possible Digital Dagdag Bawas

May 4, 2010

Let me share the full story first.

At the Kapihan sa Manila Hotel news forum yesterday, businessman and IT industry pioneer Joey De Venecia III disclosed the findings of a team of IT experts he invited to examine the documents released to him by the COMELEC.

The documents were released in response to a request dating back to March 4 (which was reiterated on March 24) on the supposed tests done by the Colorado, USA-based Systest Lab on the source codes (computer-language operating command) for the 82,200 precinct count optical scan machines leased from Smartmatic for PhP 7.2-B

De Venecia said what the experts saw “were pretty disturbing as the report from US-based SysTest Lab “produced a number of warning signals noted by the experts.”

The Comelec had commissioned SysTest Lab as an independent third-party tester of the PCOS source code for some P74 million.

(The documents released by the Comelec to the senatorial candidate as pollautomation spokesman of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino are on his website, joeydevenecia.com)

IT expert Roberto Verzola, secretary-general of Halalang Marangal, said he was not convinced that a full system audit had actually been done. Based on Verzola’s estimates, the May 10 polls only had a 25 percent chance of success.

Fellow IT expert Sonny Valdez said he would seek clarification from the poll body over “obvious shortcomings” on the automation plan.

Drexx Laggui, a noted IT consultant and elections monitor volunteer said the SysTest Lab report discussed loopholes in the system that, if left unplugged, would open up dangerous possibilities.

De Venecia said, “If these issues are left unresolved, then the manual dagdag bawas of the past will only be replaced by today’s digital dagdag bawas  — a more efficient, and untraceable, way of cheating,” de Venecia said.

Among the findings were the following:

* There is no proof that any of the 80,000-plus voting machines which were manufactured in China were ever tested, either by Smartmatic or Comelec;
* The SysTest Lab report identified logging functions that failed to include a date and time stamp data, making it almost impossible to recreate election actions in the event of electoral protests;
* The same report also cited loopholes in the system allowing manipulation of data bases.

De Venecia also noted that one key page — possibly more — from the SysTest Lab report was missing. “The missing page or pages may or may not contain crucial information.

“We are asking that Commissioner Larrazabal release a copy of the missing page or pages immediately,” the ZTE-NBN whistleblower said.

“We expect statements from both Smartmatic and Comelec with regard to these findings. We hope to hear from them that these issues have been addressed accordingly.”

De Venecia added it was untrue that human intervention had been totally eliminated in the balloting and vote-count phase.

“The Board of Election Inspector (BEI) will be wielding a UV lamp device to shine on every ballot to be given a voter, and that is already human intervention. Hindi pa nga natin alam kung ano ang hitsura ng UV markings, kung mukha ba ito ni Mickey Mouse o kung ano pa man ibang logo.”

Comelec was forced to use manual validation of the UV security marks on the ballots because of problems caused by the high-speed printing of the ballots in time for the elections. De Venecia said this could also mean there may be alignment issues with the ovals for shading by voters.

Zooming out we are now getting reports that PCOS machines are failing one after another during the tests in Metro Manila and the latest in Batanag.

The COMELEC is claiming this is because “the text ballots used are of a different paper type from the Official Ballot. Now the poll body is even waving the psywar bogey – that there are groups plotting to discredit the automated elections.

The missteps and prevarications are too glaring now that this writer fels the COMELEC is getting caught in a web of its own lies.

Postscript:

At Midfield shares here the key frames in the presentation of the IT experts findings, as done by Mr. Sonny Valdez:

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