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The Philippines will have its first ever automated elections in a long time as the country's

Commission on Elections Chairman, Jose Melo, signed Friday a contract for the
automation of the 2010 national elections.
The Chairman of the Commission of Elections (Comelec) of the Philippines represented
by its Chairman, Jose Melo, signed a P7.2 billion contract Friday with Smatmatic-TIM
joint venture Company for the automation of the 2010 national elections.
The contract signing signals the first ever automated election in the Philippines. A last-
minute petition by lawyer Harry Roque for the issuance of a temporary restraining order
(TRO) did not prevent the Comelec Chairman from signing the contract. Roque cited lack
of papers, machine errors during test runs and other bidding violations as his group’s
reasons for the filing of TRO.
Among other things, the automation contract calls for the supply, delivery and operation
of at least 82,000 computer/counting machines capable of accurately counting the
election returns within 24-48 hours and making known the winning candidates within the
stated period.
Past Philippines election returns were manually counted and takes several days,
sometimes months to finish, allowing cheating and other election fraud in the process.
“We are committed to deliver the machines on schedule and there is enough time based
on our projection to manufacture the 82,200 PCOS machines,” said Smartmatic
international sales director Cesar Flores.
Inquirer.net reports:
Melo dismissed the grounds cited by Roque for filing the petition at the Supreme Court
such as the bidder's lack of papers and failure to meet requirements of the poll machine
error rate.
Melo cited that multinational Smartmatic and local partner TIM submitted a joint venture
agreement as part of its bid documents and secured its incorporation papers for joint
venture and corporate registration from the Securities and Exchange Commission on
Thursday – the final requirement before the bidder could sign the contract with Comelec.
The Comelec, after signing of the contract with Smartmatic, announced that it will
immediately issue a ‘Notice to Proceed’ in favor of the winning bidder so that the
manufacturing and procurement of the machines can be started immediately.
Earlier, the Philippine government through special legislation by congress, passed an
automation law starting with the 2010 national elections and providing an appropriation
of more than P11 billion for its implementation.

I. SITUATIONER
The conduct of elections in the Philippines for the past four decades has remained largely
unchanged. Philippine elections rely heavily on manual tallying and canvassing of votes thus
making
them vulnerable to control and manipulation by traditional politicians and those with vested
interests.
The cost of winning an elective post is highly expensive, and the absence of mechanisms to check
and limit sources of campaign funds become fertile grounds for corruption and divisiveness.
In recent years, initiatives to reform the electoral system included the enactment of the
following laws: Republic Act (RA) 8046, establishing a pilot program modernizing the
registration
and vote counting process in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the Party List Law,
Fair Elections Act and the Absentee Voting Act. To address the inadequacies and limitations of
the
electoral process, RA 8436 or the Election Automation Act of 1997, was passed authorizing the
Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to use automated election system for vote counting and
canvassing in the national and local polls. The law provided for the generation of a national
computerized voters list, establishment of a voters identification card system and the automation
of
the vote counting.
However, sectoral issues still hinder reform efforts in the electoral process. The following
have been identified as basic problems afflicting the electoral system: (a) outdated electoral
process; (b) failure to implement the electoral modernization law; (c) limited administrative and
regulatory capabilities of the COMELEC; (d) ineffective educational/information campaigns on
new laws and policies; (e) weak political party system; (f) unaccountable political financing; and
(g) defective party list system (Governance Assessment, 2003).
II. GOALS, STRATEGIES AND ACTION PLANS
To ensure a credible and transparent electoral process, the modernization of the electoral
system through computerization shall be supported to ensure the credibility of polls and correct
the
deficiencies in the electoral system. Likewise, the Omnibus Election Code shall be further revised
and amended to respond to the needs of the present electoral system.
Measures to strengthen the party system and regulate the activities of political parties shall
be created. State financing of political parties shall also be considered through the passage of the
Campaign Finance Bill.
The COMELEC’s capacity to raise the level of political discourse and educate citizens
regarding their right to vote will be enhanced. This will be done through conduct of continuing
citizen and voter education through partnership with civil society groups and other government
Chapter 13
Automated Elections
Automated Elections
178
institutions. The electorate must be empowered with information that would help them vote
intelligently. The challenge is to develop the people’s appreciation of their vote as a means to
reform the government and receive better services from it. Part of this challenge is the need to
raise the awareness of the electorate on relevant issues and the corresponding platforms of the
candidates, if the country is to shift from the politics of personality to the politics of party
programs.

Q+A - Why are automated elections in the
Philippines a worry?
MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippine Supreme Court has upheld the government's $150
million deal with a Barbados-based firm to automate the 2010 general election,
dismissing a petition from a lawyers' group to cancel the contract.
Lawmakers, political groups, information technology experts,
and analysts have cast doubts over the automated process,
fearing machine breakdowns and delays in result transmission
that could lead to a failed election and political limbo.
A worker carrying a
Such scenarios are making local financial markets nervous. ballot box walks past a
pile of ballot boxes
Here are some questions and answers on the government's move stored in a warehouse
to automate the vote count in the country: in Manila July 1, 2009.
(REUTERS/Romeo
WHY AUTOMATE THE ELECTIONS? Ranoco/Files)

Hounded by allegations of poll fraud and manipulation of vote counts in past elections,
the Philippines has embarked on a major project to automate voting, using machines that
can scan ballots, print and transmit results that could declare winners within two hours at
the local level and about 36 hours at the national level.

About 82,200 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines will be deployed nationwide.
Each machine is programmed to read about 1,000 ballots from four to five polling
precincts at 350,000 locations across the archipelago.

The elections commission said the automation process will minimise human intervention
in the process and reduce allegations of fraud. It would speed up the process, giving it a
result within two days instead of the weeks it has taken in the past.

CAN AUTOMATION WORK?

Information technology experts have expressed fears over the potential vulnerabilities of
an automated system. Virtus Gil, a retired general and head of the government's
cybersecurity office, said electronic voting also increases the potential for large-scale
fraud.

Experts say there is no real fool-proof system and have listed a number of potential
causes to disrupt the machines and make transmission of election results difficult.
Potential problems listed by experts include hacking and "system buffer overflow", which
can result in corrupted data and crashes.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

Critics fear that allies of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo could exploit any perceived
malfunction in the automation process to invalidate the election.

Candidates could lean on irregularities and flaws to contest results and a massive failure
in the process could result in a power vacuum if no winners were declared on June 30,
2010 when terms of office of all elected officials, from the president down to municipal
councillors, expire.
Any potential civil unrest could be used as a pretext for declaring martial law and
extending Arroyo's term beyond June 2010.

Arroyo is not eligible to contest the election under term limits for elected officials. Critics
accuse her and her allies of pushing constitutional amendments to remove those limits,
but it appears they are running out of time for such revisions.

Thus, her critics are worried that Arroyo and her allies may be pushing flawed automated
balloting to create a scenario that might work in her favour.

WHAT ARE OFFICIALS SAYING?

Election commission officials are confident the automated balloting will succeed, saying
they have been preparing for all possible technical problems.

Jose Tolentino, executive director of the Commission on Elections, said the machines
would use a 128-bit encryption process that would make it difficult for hackers to grab
the transmitted data.

He said the machines would only access the main elections commission server upon
transmission and not during the data encryption process, thus minimising exposure to
potential cyber attack.

The poll agency said voting would still be done manually and only the counting would be
automated, allowing manual tallying if machines break down. It added there was enough
spare machines to replace any defective and malfunctioning ones.

13th Congress
Senate Bill No. 2231

AUTOMATED ELECTION SYSTEM (AMENDMENTS)

Filed on March 15, 2006 by Angara, Edgardo J., Recto, Ralph G., Gordon, Richard
"Dick" J

Long title

AN ACT AMENDING REPUBLIC ACT NO. 8436, ENTITLED AN ACT
AUTHORIZING THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS TO USE AN AUTOMATED
ELECTION SYSTEM IN THE MAY 11, 1998 NATIONAL OR LOCAL ELECTIONS
AND IN SUBSEQUENT NATIONAL AND LOCAL ELECTORAL EXERCISES, TO
ENCOURAGE TRANSPARENCY, CREDIBILITY, FAIRNESS AND ACCURACY
OF ELECTIONS, AMENDING FOR THE PURPOSE BATAS PAMBANSA BLG. 881,
AS AMENDED, REPUBLIC ACT NO. 7166 AND OTHER RELATED ELECTIONS
LAWS, PROVIDING FUNDS THEREFOR AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES
Scope

National

Legislative status

Approved by the President of the Philippines (1/23/2007)