Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes announced a few days ago that the Comelec will not anymore conduct another mock polls prior to the May polls. This is despite the many major glitches that were observed during the February 2 mock elections and the still unresolved issues of the source code powering the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines. During the mock trials, volunteer observers from Kontra Daya and other groups documented some ballots being rejected by the PCOS machines and delay in the transmission of election results to the canvassing centers.
During the recent mock test for the 2013 elections conducted by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) last Saturday, citizen’s groups and poll watchdogs observed several serious problems that could affect the conduct of the coming May polls.
In 2010, we wrote a series of columns devoted to the problems that we foresaw in the automated election system (AES) that was to be used in that year’s election. We listed several problems such as those arising from the compact flash cards, communications failures, the queue of voters during election day and the lack of a voter-verifiable-audit trail that is inherent in the AES system.
The first ever automated national elections with more than 50.7 million registered voters is still ongoing as of writing time since the transmission of the data to the national canvassing server is slow mainly due to problems of transmission in several areas of the country. As clear winners emerge in both national and local polls, it seems that although Comelec claims that they have successfully conducted the May 2010 elections, they cannot clearly say that the automated election system (AES) was a resounding success.
It might come as expected to a lot of us by now that the Comelec’s automated election system (AES) encounters one problem after another. Recently, news came out that the markings on the ballots for the May polls are unreadable by the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines that will be used in the upcoming national and local elections. According to the Comelec itself, errors in the ultraviolet (UV) markings printed on the ballots are due to the high-speed printing process used by Smartmatic.
The upcoming May 2010 elections is an experiment of sorts. We will have the first automated national elections with more than 50.7 million registered voters. Voters from more than 329,000 precincts will troop to 76,000 clustered precincts (CP). Each CP will have at most one precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machine for around 1000 voters.
With the May 2010 presidetial elections coming in only two months, citizens groups have raised their concerns regarding the conduct of the first nationwide automation of our elections. Groups such as the anti-fraud and election monitoring group Kontra Daya have called on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to “walk the talk” regarding its claim that all systems are in place for the Automated Election System (AES) and only an earthquake can stop the May 2010 elections.
With less than 100 days left before the May 2010 elections, the implementation of the automated election system or AES of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) continues to tread in dangerous waters. Volunteers from the Computer Professionals Union (CPU) witnessed the field test of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) in Pateros and Taguig on January 29. We are sharing the following excerpts from the CPU volunteers’ report.