Kontra Daya says safeguards lacking in vote-counting machines

Posted on March 08, 2016

AN advocacy coalition pushing for clean elections has urged anew the Commission on Elections to look into “serious issues” regarding the automated election system (AES), which will be on its third application since 2010 in this year’s general elections.

Kontra Daya pickets the Comelec. -- Vince Alvic A.F. Nonato
In a letter yesterday to Comelec Chairman Andres D. Bautista, Kontra Daya said the upcoming elections still presented “the same unresolved problems under a foreign-controlled automated election system.”

To be sure, Smartmatic-Total Information Management Corp. was already subject to a Supreme Court decision last January rejecting a challenge to the ownership constituting this enterprise.

Still, Kontra Daya said there were safeguards lacking in the AES that have not been tackled by the Comelec.

The group maintained the vote-counting machines (VCMs) were inaccurate in counting the votes cast, “as in the mock polls in Aklan where there were discrepancies between the VCM count and the manual count of the ballots, in almost all positions.”

“We have no way of determining if the correct program is installed in the VCMs,” Kontra Daya also said. “The VCMs printed hash code (included in the initialization report) [which] cannot be compared with published hash of the source code, since only the hash of the archive or zipped source code, and various system config files are available online.”

Kontra Daya pointed out further that the VCMs “rejected or misread” what were otherwise valid ballots, as well as the “erratic” transmission of resutls.

Above all, the group urged the Comelec to “heed the growing demand to activate the vote verification feature on both the machine screen and confirmation receipt.” The matter of the poll body’s decision against voter receipts has been brought to the Supreme Court.

“We are also concerned with reports that government resources are being used by some candidates for their electoral campaign. We are wary that vote buying, use of military, police and paramilitary forces to coerce voters would still be prevalent towards election day,” Kontra Daya also warned in its letter.

The signatories are Kontra Daya convenors Sr. Mary John Mananzan and Fr. Ramil Aguilar, professors Danilo Arao and Giovanni Tapang of the University of the Philippines, Rick Bahague, Jr. of the Computer Professionals Union, Renato Reyes, Jr. of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Noemi Lardizabal-Dado of, and Mae Paner of Juana Change Movement.