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Will Our Automated Elections Technology Be Foolproof? (UPDATED)

May 19, 2009


Is the COMELEC indeed ready to hold the first ever automated elections in the Philippines with whole process from precinct level voting, vote count, and canvassing largely going through computers?

The COMELEC says it even has contingency plans through to Plan ‘D’ with the automated process virtually error free and with minimal human intervention which has been the hallmark of fraud-ridden political exercises since time immemorial.

All indications as of today point to one likely winner in the bidding: SmartMatic.

The poll body hastens to add that while the consortium is the only one left among 7 original bidders, given its lowest responsive offer of a contract price of PhP 7.2-B, Smartmatic still has to pass a full demonstration of its proffered Precinct Count Optical Scan machines and after the COMELEC dispenses with the appeals of the losing bidders.

Our readers may not believe it, but as early as two full months ago there has been much talk that the so-called ‘alphabet team’ would win the tender.

The tag alphabet referred to the so-calleed BCA Group which draws its initials from the three main principals who comprise the firm which is the same entity that got the information technology contracts for the computerization of the Land Registration Authority, the Department of Foreign Affairs passporting system, the Land Transportation Office plus the Southern Tagaloc Arterial Road (STAR) Tollway.

But as rumors go it would be grossly unfair for any suspicions to be cast on both the COMELEC and the BCA.

To be fair, today’s newspapers carried a direct warning by the COMELEC dissuading the bidders from colluding with one another.

We need to see the bidding process through to its conclusions and for any questions about the contract award to be raised, and clarified, in the proper legal forum.

Today one side issue being raised is why it was the COMELEC’s own spokesman, Hames Jimenez who helped coordinate the interview with new media of Smartmatic with the lame excuse that “Smartmatic is not familiar with the press.”

Jimenez’s booboo aside, there exists unresolved issues about the Smartmatic elections solution and the foreign entities behind it.

There exists unresolved issues about the Smartmatic elections solution and the foreign entities behind it.

The montage above is composed of freeze frames from reports of both Cable News Network and Fox News about how the automated elections were undertaken in 2006 in Florida, U.S.A. where some 19,000 Smartmatic Diebold machines were put to use.

CNN Report:

Fox News Report:

The news reports assert that the machines could be hacked and were unreliable. This writer does not draw conclusions from these news reports but they cannot be ignored.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. May 22, 2009 12:04 am

    I never said that Smartmatic was not familiar with the press, Mr. G. Where you got that quote would be an interesting story in itself. And there was no boo-boo. It’ll be nice to know why you think otherwise.

    James Jimenez

    • May 22, 2009 4:23 am

      Hi Mr. James. Your action of helping Smartmatic coord with media for their interview was widely reported in MSM, including GMA Network. I track the news consistently. I firmly believe you mean well but your actions can be perceived differently you must understand.

      You are correct that perhaps you did not say Smartmatic was not familiar with the press.

      In my humble view this then makes your facilitation suspect, or at least sends the wrong message.

      That was a boo boo.

  2. May 26, 2009 8:58 am

    I appreciate that you “track the news consistently.” Perhaps then, you might kindly note: (1) that interview was book-ended by categorical declarations from me that no winning bidder had yet been declared; (2) that the SBAC, in open session, had ordered Smartmatic to prepare for the demonstration of their tendered devices; and (3) that the interview was limited to Smartmatic’s representative saying that they were ready to conduct the demo.

    Considering these circumstances, there was no harm in letting the Smartmatic representative speak – under my constant monitoring: it was of public knowledge that Smartmatic was ordered to prepare for the demo; Smartmatic gave no information about the system it tendered; and the public was given the assurance that at least one vendor was ready to show its wares, with the clear information that others might follow.

    Now, I suppose, depending on which news outlets you track, you might not have been aware of these attendant circumstances or you may have appreciated them differently. But I track the news as well, and it seems to me that most reports were balanced and fair, without the kind of slanting that would smear the story with salacious insinuations.

    Thank you for your time.


    James Jimenez

  3. May 27, 2009 4:04 am

    Sir James,

    Will you care to, pray tell us then, just exactly how the COMELEC will, extensively, I hope, test the proffered technology for 99.995% ‘fool-proofness’ then?

    That’s the point of the post.


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