PPCRV concludes polls as ‘generally clean’

Manila, Philippines — The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) ended its parallel counting yesterday and concluded that although there were some discrepancies in the election returns (ER’s) that the group tallied, no systematic fraud occurred.

According to PPCRV, only .07 percent of the 43,035 ER’s from clustered precincts showed signs of

PPCRV Chairperson and former ambassador to Rome Henriettta de Villa characterized the 2010 Automated Elections as “generally clean”.

PPCRV chair and former ambassador to Rome Henrietta de Villa characterized the automated 2010 polls as “generally clean.”

“In the midst of the state of speculations, all the accusations that are now being thrown against the first fully automated election that was carried out nationwide, we, together with the majority of Filipinos, still believe that the AES (Automated Election System) must be here to stay,” De Villa said.

De Villa also added that if there were indeed attempts, it was not successfully pulled off.

Click here for full article from Philstar.com

30 Days to the 2010 Automated Elections

In a matter of 30 days from today, the Philippines will finally implement an automated counting system for the national and local elections. May 10, 2010 will be a day when our country will finally show the world that we are done with the error-prone and easy to manipulate manual counting of ballots.

Automated counting removes several opportunities to manipulate the election results at the precinct level but it also makes some worry that cheating can be automated, and that a scenario causing a failure of elections like continuous power outage would occur forcing us to go into a constitutional dilemma of having no replacement to officials who will end their terms this year.

While it is easy to imagine scenarios of doom, these are really not that easy to do. In order for the automated counting to fail, any, or the combination of the following scenarios would have to be created:

Total Power Failure throughout the country.

Total power outage that lasts several days or weeks, causing total failure of all communication systems and draining all the battery power that comes with the counting machines. This power outage will have to start well before election day in order to ensure a failure of elections as well as a failure of everything else that requires electricity.

Diesel and gasoline supply cut-off several days before the power outage starts to ensure all backup power systems will run out of fuel.

If this total power failure happens, the elections probably won’t matter anymore.

All telecoms systems are jammed.

Someone shells out a significant amount money to buy enough jamming machines to jam all counting machines. These are expensive and they all have to work 100% until COMELEC gives up and cannot transmit the data. Unfortunately, this is very difficult to do. Even if someone manages to get enough jamming machines to significantly affect the data transmission, all COMELEC has to do is move the counting machines to another location where the jamming signal is too weak to affect it and the data transmission will proceed. Also, even if the machine cannot transmit the data electronically, COMELEC can get the data from the machines on a USB drive and manually upload the data to the central database.

To stop data transmission, the jammers will have to take down all forms of connections to the Internet which is unlikely to happen because the Internet itself, a by-product of the cold war, is designed to be resilient to a nuclear attack by using multiple routes. If a certain route is damaged, the data can still go to its destination through other routes.

Someone with the proper access rights to the data will manipulate the numbers.

This is probably the best way a candidate can cheat but for this to happen, the database administrators and software developers must be persons with questionable integrity. Systems developed for critical applications like the elections have multiple safeguards against data integrity issues. There are audit trails built in into the system so any forced changes can be traced. Unless the administrators and developers are willing to take the risk of being caught, this form of cheating would be hard to do.

Random manual count will not match with automated data count.

Any manual count will likely not match with the machine counted votes. This is because the machine may not accept partially marked votes but a human looking at the ballot might accept it. It would be better if the verification count is done on a another counting machine. The results between the counting machine at the precint and the one used for random checking should match closely.

The final election results can be delayed by political parties by complaining of inaccuracies with the manual verification count. However, people should realize that at the national level, any counting errors due to the normal operation of the machines would be more or less shared equally across all candidates which is the normal behavior of large numbers. A candidate would be embarrassing himself if he complains of cheating due to a few counting errors of some machines. A small amount of error is a natural occurence. A candidate would be wise to ensure he leads by several points in the surveys to ensure naturally occuring error cannot turn the tide against him.

Filipinos and the international community do nothing to stop cheating.

All Filipinos are somehow mesmerized by the turn of events that they cannot or will not do anything to help the COMELEC continue with the elections. And for some reason, the international community will leave us on our own and refuse to provide any form of help. This scenario is highly unlikely though because people would always try to defend to survive and would not simply allow events to happen that are disadvantageous to the public.

Filipinos should give the automated elections a chance to succeed and be vigilant against attempts to compromise the sanctity of their votes. A successful May 2010 elections would give the Philippines huge boost in our performance as a country thus giving the nation more opportunities for the community.

PGMA hails successful conduct of ARMM elections, poll automation

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo expressed elation over the peaceful and orderly conduct of this year’s elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) which also marked the successful pilot-testing of poll automation.

The President was particularly pleased with information from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) that the political exercise registered a high 80-percent voter turn-out, and was relatively free of violence and complaints.

This is in total contrast to previous elections in the area that were marred with violence, complaints, controversies, and alleged disenfranchisement of voters.

Congratulating the Comelec, the President also congratulated the police and military authorities for their support which made violence almost non-existent; and most importantly the residents of ARMM who, by their active participation, showed that democracy reigns supreme.

The Parish Pastoral for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), and other NGOs concerned, were present and monitored the process can attest to the positive results of the exercise.

The “automation of election” is third in the President’s 10-point legacy agenda on socio-economic and political reforms, also known as the Beat-the-Odds program.

We have now seen the future of the Philippine electoral process, and it works, the president said. (PIA/Bohol)