PCOS machine anomalies point to 'probable fraud' -PHL Computer Society
The voting machines that were used to vote and transmit election results in the May 2010 national polls had anomalies that raised questions on the integrity of the voting system and election results, according to an assessment by the Philippine Computer Society (PCS).
The PCS said it was asked by Biliran Kawsa, a local civic group based in Biliran, to examine the audit trail of the PCOS machines used in the Philippines' first ever automated elections two years ago.
The PCOS machines —which are capable of reading ballots marked by voters and transmitting the results to a board of canvassers— were supplied by Smartmatic-TIM, a company that was started in Venezuela. The company won the P690-million contract to implement the Philippines' automated elections in 2010.
According to the PCS, the audit panel was to provide a technical appreciation of the evidence presented by Biliran Kawsa regarding what they claim were instances of fraud committed during the May 10, 2010 elections specific to Biliran.
“Based on the evidences presented, the PCS panel concluded that there were highly questionable instances where the probability of fraud may have been perpetrated using the PCOS machines,” it said in its preliminary assessment report.
The PCS said it has sent a copy of its technical assessment to the Comelec and various lawmakers.
According to the report, the audit trails of the PCOS machines and the municipal board of canvassers showed insecurities in the transmission of the results.
The following are the three major findings of the PCS based on the audit logs of the machines from Biliran:
- The audit trail of the MBOC computers showed that it received the transmission of the elections results for a precinct from an internet address. But, a few hours later, the same audit trail showed that the MBOC computer received another batch of election results for the SAME precinct from ANOTHER internet address. Seven (7) precincts were observed to have this pattern.
- The audit trail of a PCOS in a certain precinct showed all the tasks that the PCOS performed, including four unsuccessful transmission attempts to the MBOC computers. The last entry in the audit trail was the closing down of the PCOS with no results transmitted. But three hours later, the MBOC audit trail showed that the MBOC computer received, from a different IP address, a successful transmission from the precinct where the PCOS was already closed.
- There was an instance when the transmission to the MBOC occurred past midday of May 11 or about 29 hours after the polling place first opened.
- The PCS technical panel said their findings showed that there was the possibility that the voting machines from one precinct could send different results. It also indicated that the MBOC could accept voting results even as the precincts were closed.
The MBOC audit logs also showed errors in Spanish. According to the PCS, Smartmatic-TIM could have recycled software used in past election exercises. “The Filipino taxpayer may have paid brand new prices for second hand PCOS machines,” it said.
Biliran was among the districts that called into question the results of their local elections.
Just after the May 2010 polls, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) in Biliran wrote to the Comelec decrying the alleged questionable activities involving election workers and voting machines in the last May 10 elections.
In their letter to Commissioner Rene Sarmiento, members of PPCRV Biliran and concerned citizens said they documented instances of voters disenfranchisement, harassment of watchers, irregularities in the conduct of the Board of Election Inspectors, and malfunctioning and missing voting machines.
Rev. Fr. Marvyn Maceda, the PPCRV local coordinator, in a report said: “We strongly recommend that these allegations of massive cheating not only in the province of Biliran but also in other places, be looked into by the Comelec, especially if these allegations involved the PCOS machines and memory cards: the very hearts of our automated elections.”
The PPCRV, the Comelec's accredited citizen's arm in the last elections, urged the poll body “to conduct immediate recount of our votes both valid and invalid in each of the eight municipalities throughout the Province of Biliran.” The proclamation of the winning candidates should be annulled and the results set aside, they said.
The Comelec said it is keen on implementing an automated election in 2013. Although there were no agreements yet on what technology to use, the poll body said Smarmatic-TIM's technology is under consideration.
However, the PCS said the Comelec should carefully study its plans for the 2013 polls.
“Moving forward, the Philippine Computer Society enjoins the Commission on Elections and its newly formed Advisory Council as well as the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Automated Elections to thoroughly review its plans for the upcoming automation of the 2013 elections to avoid instances such as the ones previously mentioned that will cast doubts on the integrity of the election process,” the group said. — TJD, GMA News