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PCOS: Making Sure Our Votes Count by Ricardo Saludo

PCOS: Making Sure Our Votes Count by Ricardo Saludo

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Published by thecenseireport
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11/25/2012

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CONTENTS BUSINESS NATION WORLD TECHNOLOGY HEALTH/LIFESTYLE
Making Every Filipino Vote Count
With PCOS machines backin harness, Comelec and thecitizenry must join hands toensure the people’s will wins
 With the Supreme Court decisionallowingthe Commission on Elections to buy all82,200 Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS)machines used in the 2010 elections, theeffort to safeguard election integrity shiftsto both the Comelec and the citizenry,including election workers of politicalgroups, joining hands to institute andimplement iron-clad mechanisms againstcomputerized fraud.In this two-part article,
The CenSEI Report 
reviews the technology, procedures and2010 performance of the PCOS automatedelection system (AES), then expounds onrecommended measures to help safeguardthe integrity of elections using the voting,counting and canvassing technology and
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 well or not so well PCOS-AES did in 2010.Right from the start, the electionautomation project was fraught withproblems. It began two decades ago whenthen Comelec Chairman Christian Monsodmade it part of his election modernizationprogram, asan ABS-CBN timeline recounts.In 1994 the Commission was ready to bidout an automation project, but Congressfailed to pass a law mandating AES.RA 8436 was passed in December 1997, fornational elections the following year, butthe 1998 voting and counting were againmanual (
see The Long Road to Election Automation graphic onpage 16
).

State of the Nation Addressin 2001, Gloria Arroyo declared election
STRATEGY POINTS
In reusing the PCOS automated electionsystem, top priority is addressing itsweaknesses and failings laid bare in the2010 pollsSafeguards and procedures were sidesteppedin last elections. Without them, it would bebetter to go back to manual countingElection software manipulation happens evenin advanced nations. Unless it can be stopped,automated polls are not secure
By Ricardo Saludo
Smartmatic’s Cesar Flores shows PCOS features to SenatorsKoko Pimentel and Juan Ponce Enrile
YouTube
NATION
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automation a top priority of heradministration and released
2 billion forthe project. It was covered inChapter 13of the 2004-2010 Medium-Term PhilippineDevelopment Plan. Comelec contracted
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in 2004, but the Supreme Court voided the
1-billion dealfor violating procurementlaws and rules. RA 9369 was passed in2007 for the 2010 polls, and
11.3 billion was allocated by Congress, bringing the total provided by the Arroyo governmentto $15 billion. Automated national
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reality in May 2010, underthe systemprocured by ComelecfromSmartmatic-TIM Corporation, a joint venture betweenSmartmatic, aLondon-headquartered,Latin American-runinformationtechnology company, and Makati-based,Filipino-ownedTotal InformationManagement. The public so used to waiting days or weeks of canvassing wereastounded when results were speedily canvassed and widely accepted. Municipal,provincial, and regional tallies got to theComelec data server within hours of polls closing.“By midnight on Election Day, 60% of results had been transmitted,” recountedthe Comelec Advisory Council in itsreporton use of the AES in the 2010 elections,and 80% the next day. Local candidates were proclaimed in 24 hours, and senators within a week, the CAC added. Losers inthe presidential and vice-presidential races
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Congress began. Plainly, it was night andday vis-a-vis manual polls. As for problems,the CAC said they “were not severe enoughto allow interested parties to manipulatethe election results.”
 Where PCOS went wrong.
The Center forPeople Empowerment inGovernancehas a markedly different view. CenPEGrecounted in its “IncidentReports on the May 10,2010 Automated Elections
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PCOS malfunctions and breakdowns, defectivememory cards (containingoperating programs),transmission snafus and connectivity 
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paper, missing or misused ultravioletscanners, and old-fashioned voterdisenfranchisement, long queues, vote buying and other irregularities.The result of CenPEG’s Project 3030 withthe European Union, the report wondered:“Is ‘success’ measurable only by how ‘fast’ election results are — which itself is disputable? ... Speed thus became the yardstick of ‘success’ to the extent that
Speed of counting was the yardstick of ‘success,' so thatmany peopleoverlooked what was happeningon the ground
~ Center for People Empowerment  for Governance
Making every vote count
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CONTENTS BUSINESS NATION WORLD TECHNOLOGY HEALTH/LIFESTYLE
many people overlooked whatreally happened on the ground.”Indeed, the very speed of resultstransmission raised questions:“Until now, Comelec cannotexplain convincingly how and why election results reachednational canvassing servers sofast — starting even an hour
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 voting — when the automatedelection system at the precinctlevel was hounded by technical breakdowns and irregularities.”In fact, argued CenPEG,minimum technical and legalsafeguards were set aside,raising serious questionsabout the integrity of results. Among these failings were “theabsence of an independentsource code review, inadequate voter education and poll watchtraining, poor estimation of the country's infrastructuresto support a modern electiontechnology, absence of 
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preparation and tendency toshort-cut requirements, delayedor last-hour issuance of Comelecgeneral instructions, andinadequate mock elections and
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PCOS defenders would note thatsome leaders of CenPEG, likeformer Philippine ComputerSociety head Augusto Lagman, who subsequently served asComelec commissioner untilrecently, had lobbied for the rivalOpen Election System.
June-October 1993Under Chairman Christian
Monsod’s 1992modernization program
, the Commission on Electionsobtained advice from international consultants andviewed possible technologies abroad, to shortlist electionautomation options January-December 1994Anticipating the passage of a poll automation law,
Comelec made preparations for automation
, includingbidding for equipment, but no legislation was passed June 7, 1995President Fidel Ramos signs
RA 8046 authorizing pilot-testing of automation
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Muslim Mindanao elections in 1996 June 11, 1996Voter’s Registration Act of 1996 mandated a
computerized and updated voters lists 
September 9, 1996
Automated ARMM elections were declared successful.
 In October-December, the equipment was demonstratednationwide December 22, 1997
Election Modernization Act (RA 8436) enacted
,authorizing the Commission onElections to use an automated election system (AES) inthe May 1998 polls November-December 2000
Comelec conducted bidding for Automated Counting
 and Consolidation of Results Systems (Accors) project,but the bidding failed July 23, 2001

State of the Nation Address, PresidentGloria Arroyo released
2 billion for election automation
THE LON
CoGMA
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