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Anatomy Of A National Embarassment (Updated)

May 27, 2010

It doesn’t even make for good television.

It has become all too apparent that the pigheadedness of the Commission on Elections in dispensing with legally-mandated pilot testing of the automated system is at the root of the disgusting delay in the Congressional canvass of the May 10 election results.

Augusto Lagman of the anti-election fraud group Transparent Elections.Org:

We are back to where we were when we were using the manual elections. I guess there was a problem with the program. A glaring error like that is so easy to stop. When those things happen, it also might happen in other parts of the program. In a big system like this, our elections! This is not just a payroll system. This is our elections. You have to completely test the system before you apply it.
It’s not just the Smartmatic, but more Comelec because they are the ones supposed to be administering the elections, Smartmatic is just a vendor. Unfortunately, Comelec passed on all the responsibilities of running and managing the elections to Smartmatic. They are now both in trouble.

Finally there is a confession about were the system problem is rooted.

The night after the May 10 elections, the error in the number of registered voters in the Canvassing and Consolidation System (CCS) was  discovered – there were 256 million registered voters for the May 10 polls.

Cesar Flores, president of Smartmatic Asia Pacific:

An application error made the system multiply the actual number of registered voters of 51.3 million by 5. Instead of adding the registered voters per precinct, the application added the registered voters in the precinct, municipal and provincial levels.

Another problem: the discrepancy in time stamps on election returns. Some ERs were dated April 27, raising fears of pre-shaded ballots being fed into voting machines and transmitted to the servers before the actual elections. There were also complaints of Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines failing to log its activity during election day, including the feeding of ballots.

Throughout the course of the proceedings, lawmakers’ questions have also centered on the following issues:
•    the absence of digital signatures in electronically transmitted election returns;
•    inaccurate time stamps of some Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines;
•    the matter of some PCOS machines found in a technician’s property in Antipolo;
•    the apparent presence of 2 separate certificates of canvass for president and vice-president; and,
•    the faulty Smartmatic canvass server in Congress, which, upon initialization, showed there were 256 million registered voters.

Tragically this is what has replaced the initial euphoria over the ‘quickness’ of the automated vote count.

Absolutely no one is laughing.

Update:

In an apparent effort to gain a little time, the joint congressional canvassing panel late laste night (May 27) proceeded to canvass the returns from five countries where Filipinos voted the old way – manually.

The votes amount to 4,000 votes.

While the canvass is supposed to continue this is what lies ahead before actual canvassing really proceeds:

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile proposed that a technical committee to examine the authenticity of compact flash cards used in the May 10 automated elections but clarified that this would be done simultaneous with the vote count.

Enrile asked that the technical committee, composed of experts from the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the Senate and the House of Representatives, have access to all 76,000 flash cards if there would be questions on the certificates of canvass.

The technical committee will study the audit logs of the flash cards.

The technical committee will examine the flash cards simultaneous with the canvassing of the votes by the joint congressional committee as Congress needs to proclaim the successors of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Vice President Noli de Castro before their terms end on June 30.

But Comelec chairman Jose Melo says examining all 76,000 cards could not be finished before June 30, the deadline for the proclamation of the country’s new leaders:

“We project this will reach months, not certainly before June 30. It is like opening 76,000 ballot boxes.”

Thank you, Chairman Melo.

In other countries, people would expect such a virtual admission of failue to be followed by an offer to resign.

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