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What is AES Watch

What is AES Watch

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Published by: BlogWatch.ph on Jan 20, 2010
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aeswatch 2010
 AES Watch
Secretariat: University of thePhilippines Alumni Association(UPAA), Ang Bahay ng Alumni,Magsaysay Ave., University of thePhilippines, Diliman, Quezon CityTelefax: 929-9526;Telephone: 920-6868; Fax: 929-8327;Email: aeswatch2010@gmail.com
The AES Watch is an inde-pendent, voluntary,proactive, and nationwidenetworking of citizensgroups and individualvolunteers promotingclean elections and ensur-ing that the May 2010 elec-tions push through – eitherautomated or manual –with proper safeguardsand remedies in placetowards achieving a peace-ful, transparent andcredible exercise.The AES Watch was ini-tially formed in mid-October 2009 from a groupof more than 200 signato-ries –individuals and or-ganizations – to the JointAppeal for the Release ofthe Source Code initiatedby CenPEG , NASSA-CBCP, AMRSP, NCCP,Solidarity Philippines,CCM, Ecumenical BishopsForum (EBF), and UPAA.With the Comelec re-maining unresponsive tothe appeal, the initial con-veners vowed to continueengaging in activitiesaimed at increasing criticalawareness of the AESamong the public and me-dia. They saw the need tocounteract the negativesuggestion that criticalstudies about the AES andthe Comelec preparationsare equivalent to promot-ing backward, manualelection system or to sid-ing with cheaters andbeing “doomsayers.”Moreover, the convenersagreed that being criticalmeans being active partici-pants in helping ensure thesuccess of the AES and theMay 2010 elections whileengaging the Comelec topursue properpreparations. Lastly, theconveners also agreed thatit is important to engagethe public – the key stake-holders – especially in rais-ing their level ofawareness andparticipation in the crucialforthcoming elections.
 What is AES Watch?
How was AES Watch formed?
The coming May 2010national and local elec-tions are crucial. A newPresident will be chosen,together with other na-tional and local officials,with close to 50 millionpeople expected to vote.For the first time, thesynchronized electionswill be automated usingtechnology outsourced toa foreign-backedconsortium. Time is run-ning out but the Comelechas yet to make a con-vincing case that it isready to implement atrustworthy automatedelection system (AES).Preparations for full auto-mation are replete withuncertainties (e.g., timelydelivery by supplier of voting machines, nation-wide availability of electronic transmissionfacilities, etc.). TheComelec has already re-vised the AES implemen-
aeswatch 2010
Conveners’shared concern:
includes University of the Philippines Alumni Association (UPAA), Center for People Empower-ment in Governance (CenPEG), National Secre-tariat for Social Action-Catholic Bishops Confer-ence of the Philippines (CBCP), Bishop BroderickPabillo and Bishop Deogracias Yniguez of theCommission on Public Affairs of the CBCP, Center for People Empowerment in Governance(CenPEG), Ecumenical Bishops Forum, NationalCouncil of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), Dr.Rachel Roxas, dean of the De La Salle Univer-sity- College of Computer Studies (DLSU-CCS),Dr. Reena Estuar, chair of the Ateneo de ManilaUniversity- Department of Information Communi-cations System, Dr. Jaime Caro, chair of the UPDepartment of Computer Science, CAUCUS-Philippine Computer Society, Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP),Computer Professionals Union, Solidarity Philip-pines, Philippine Computer Emergency ResponseTeam (PhCERT), National Union of Students inthe Philippines (NUSP), Engr. Rodolfo Lozada,Dilaab-Hearts Foundation, Senior Catholic Citi-zens Organization, Coordinating Council for People’s Development and Governance (CPDG),Health Alliance for Democracy, (HEAD), Trans-parentElections.org, Concerned Citizens’ Move-ment (CCM), Association of Schools of Public Administrators in the Philippines (ASPAP),Transparency International-Philippines, Pagba-bago (Movement for Social Change), Council for Health and Development (CHD), Move-ment for Good Governance (MGG), Alyansa Agrikultura, and others.
cies faced by the AES, manyconcerned citizens and advocacygroups have taken separate initia-tives to en-gage theComelec.Individually,they haveshared criti-cal findingsof studies onthe AES,called and lobbied for safeguardsand remedies, and/oroffered alternative systems, withthe common aim of getting theneeded remedial or correctivemeasures instituted, but to no avail.Some have also asked the Comelecto be forthright in disclosing thetrue state of its preparedness forthe AES. Already, reports from theground show that most likelyelections cannot be fully-automatedand that manual voting will stilltake place in many parts of thecountry.Under the cir-cumstances,there is a needto organize amore vigilantand broadercoalition of citi-zens groups andindividual volunteers critically look-ing at the AES preparations, so asto have stronger voice through uni-fied action and public support, inengaging the Comelec. The Come-lec must institute the necessarymeasures, including appropriatecontingency plans, to ensurepeaceful, clean, and credible elec-tions come May 2010.
tation timetable six times to accom-modate delays and constantchanges in schedules.Studies by advocacy groups havefound the AES to suffer from techni-cal vulnerabilities such as thoserelated to verifiability of voting re-sults, security of electronic trans-mission, etc. Safeguards againstthese vulnerabilities must be put inplace to deter internal rigging, butthe plans of Comelec in this regardremain unclear. The possibility of electronic fraud, if not satisfactorilyaddressed, is a serious concern ascheating machineries are gettinghoned while majority of the Filipinovoters have yet to fully comprehendthe workings of the AES and theirimplications on voters’ rights.
 Apprehensive about the contingen-
 Who are the members of AES Watch?
“...there is a need to organize a morevigilant and broader coalition of citizens groups and individual volunteerscritically looking at the AES preparations,so as to have stronger voice throughunified action and public support…” 
The AES Watch, as formed, ismulti-sectoral. It welcomes the par-ticipation of groups and individualsfrom key sectors who subscribe toclean and transparent elections andare keen to be involved in monitor-ing the preparations for and con-duct of the AES. The AES Watch isopen to the ecumenical community,human rights groups, lawyers, aca-demics and youth-students, variousprofessionals most especially ITpractitioners, business, media, andother basic sectors working in thegrassroots communities.The AES Watch will liaise with poll-accredited groups like PPCRV, aswell as with NAMFREL and othernational and international observ-ers’ missions that will be deployedduring the elections. Networkingwill extend to political parties andother cause-oriented organizationsthat promote transparent and credi-ble elections.
 What is its advocacy?
The AES Watch will engage theComelec on issues related to thereadiness and trustworthiness of theAES. It will1. Urge Comelec to defining the pa-rameters of its readiness for the auto-mated elections, hybrid or partialautomation, and/or manual electionsin the country: How many will befully automated? How many will gopartial? How many will go manual?2. Propose appropriate mechanismsand actions for, as well as participatein any way possible, in addressingproblems and gaps in the AESpreparations;3. Help come up with clear guidelinesas well as practical application of anappropriate adjudication processaccording to the design of the electionsystem;4. Ensure safeguards and remedialmeasures on the identifiedvulnerabilities and critical areas toraise the level of trustworthiness andcredibility of the AES and/or ensurethat elections push through in May2010 whatever the problems are.
Guided by the right to publicinformation, the people have the rightto vote in secrecy as well as the rightto know how votes are verified andcounted and thatresults truly expresstheir free and sover-eign will.
3. Right to know.
 The right to vote isexercised not only onElection Day. The right to vote in-cludes the right to know how an elec-tion system such as the AES works,including its source code, secret andpublic keys, and all other major fea-tures and vulnerabilities. It is the peo-ple’s right to know critically whetherpoll automation will ensure clean,transparent, and credible elections sothey will be able to safeguard theirvotes and make sure their votecounts.
 4. Clean and credible election.
Anelection can be clean and credibleonly in the absence of all types offraud, such as tampered voters’ regis-tration, vote buy-ing, internal rig-ging and hacking,
(votepadding- and -shaving), intimida-tion and militariza-tion, and so on.
5. Accountability.
Those responsiblefor negligence and mismanagementof the election, fraud, deliberate vot-ers’ disenfranchisement, partisanpolitics of government agencies, andall other attempts at manipulating theelection must be held liable and ac-countable in accordance with currentelection laws.The following principles will serve asthe basis of unity and action of theAES Watch:
1. Election and the right to vote are asovereign right
. Election is a public,political, and democratic exercise thatexpresses the people’s free, sovereign,and political will to choose the gov-ernment that will represent theirrights and aspirations as a nation andas a people. It is a means towardmaking democracy work and makingpublic governance solely as a publicservice and for public interest withaccountability.
2. Secret voting and pub-lic/transparent counting.
Electionand all its instruments – includingpoll automation - must guarantee thedemocratic principle of secret votingand public/transparent counting.
“The right to vote is exercised not only on Election Day” 
While respecting unified standon common concerns under theAES Watch, individual membersand groups may continueengaging respectively on theirown as individual organizationsor in tandem with other groupswith the Comelec on pertinentissues.More intensively, the AESWatch will pursue public advo-cacy with regard to the majorissues of poll automation andmanagement with the objectiveof raising public awareness onthe criticalness of the automatedelection as well as participate inensuring mechanisms andtransparent, and credible elec-tions. Various forms of advocacywill be used, including:1. statements, letters, paid ads,petitions, press releases, positionpapers2. participation in JCOC hear-ings, interventions, dialogues,and consultations with Comelecand concerned stakeholders3. forums, symposia, roundtablediscussions, conferences and thelike4. media and press dialogues,conference;conference;5. website for education andother exchange of information6. preparation and dissemina-tion of voters education and pollwatchers guides in support of allother voters education and pollwatch trainings

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