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Eleksyon 2013

Poll watchdog calls 2013 elections a 'technology and political disaster'

May 18, 2013 6:24pm

Election watchdog group Automated Election System Watch on Saturday denounced what it considers the arbitrary and premature proclamation of winning candidates, as it asserted the conduct of the midterm 2013 polls was worse than the previous elections in 2010, the first automated elections.

“By making arbitrary and highly irregular decisions during canvassing, and proclaiming presumed winning candidates prematurely, the Comelec has turned the second automated elections from bad to worse – a technology and political disaster,” AES Watch said in a statement on Saturday.

The proclamation of the “winning” senatorial bets was based on only 20 percent of canvassed elections results.

The AES Watch was launched in 2010 and is a network composed of 40 organizations, institutions, non-governmental organizations, Information Technology professionals, researchers, and academics.

Earlier, election lawyer Romeo Macalintal said the proclamation of the first nine winning candidates should be repeated because the proclamation certificates should contain the number of votes garnered and ranking of the candidates.

Last Thursday, Comelec declared six senatorial bets as winners, but proclaimed them alphabetically and not according to their rank in the race because Comelec did not announce the number of votes they garnered. The six are former MTRCB chairperson Grace Poe; re-electionist senators Loren Legarda, Francis Escudero and Alan Peter Cayetano; Nancy Binay; and Aurora Rep. Sonny Angara.

The three other winning candidates, announced on Friday, were Bam Aquino; incumbent Senators Koko Pimentel and Antonio Trillanes IV.

Trillanes was not able to attend the event because he was out of town, while Binay and Pimentel skipped the event upon the advice of their lawyers.

Earlier, Binay noted she wanted Comelec to canvass more votes before proclamation.
2013 polls worse than 2010

AES Watch said the 2013 polls lacked the necessary safety features to ensure a transparent and fair elections.

“The second automated election cannot pass the standards of the IT industry,” it said.

“Compared to 2010, there are more data discrepancies as well as open and brazen possible manipulation of election data at the stage of canvassing and consolidation,” it added.

The poll watchdog cited the “highly-suspicious intervention” of Smartmatic technicians in fixing the program of the transparency server, which led to the deletion of some election returns files.

The Untied Nationalist Alliance (UNA) pointed out this incident in its petition to defer the proclamation, but the Comelec denied it.

The other problems cited by AES Watch were: no source code review at least six months to one year before the polls; no independent testing of precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines; no reliable mock elections; and no effective random manual audit.

The group noted that as of this Saturday, no results from the random manual audit have been presented.

The RMA, whose results were supposed to validate the machine-generated vote counts, was conducted in 234 areas.
On Friday, another poll watchdog National Citizens' Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) sounded the alarm on what could be 10 to 11 million unaccounted votes represented by the then 23 percent of election returns that ahd not yet been transmitted. Namfrel said the missing votes could "swing the results" of the polls especially at the national level.

Furthermore, AES Watch also doubted the poll body’s decision to transport untransmitted compact flash (CF) cards directly to the National Board of Canvassers in Manila.

It said the Comelec bypassed the “legal ladderized canvassing – a procedure that is also prone to human tampering.”

Moreover, it noted that aside from technical glitches, "there was unprecedented large-scale vote buying.”

PCOS Glitches

AES Watch pointed out that 18,187 or 23 percent of the clustered precincts had failed to transmit election returns four days after the polls, affecting some 8.6 million voters.

Also, it questioned the 44-hour lull – at 69 percent – in election returns transmission.

“Aside from demolishing the much-hyped 'speed' of automation, the transmission delays opened the whole system to data manipulation and election rigging,” AES Watch said.

“A total of 1,432 or 1.84 percent of monitored clustered precincts from all over the country had either PCOS machine or transmission problems. This is equivalent to 1.432 million compromised votes,” it  added.
But Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said earlier that only 258 PCOS machines had been found to be defective, lower than the 450 machines that had problems in the 2010 elections.

"Anointer for who deserves to win"

“Comelec has leaped beyond what it is supposed to do – to administer the elections and protect the people’s sovereign voice; now it has become the anointer for who deserves to win,” the AES Watch said.

“Comelec is the one creating the conditions toward casting doubts on the legitimacy of the elections and triggering a public clamor to demand a failure of election,” it added.

As of posting time, GMA News Online was still trying to get a reaction from Comelec. — LBG/HS, GMA News
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