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Posts tagged ‘AES’

Still Automagic

It’s another Automagic election season.

Troubleshooting the PCOS machines in the 2013 elections. | Photo from @Venzie

Troubleshooting the PCOS machines in the 2013 elections. | Photo from @Venzie

In 2010, we were perplexed not once but twice by the number of registered voters revealed by the vote canvassing servers of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC). First, Congress discovered in their servers a total of 256 million voters. Later, the national canvassing came out with a list that indicated 153 million registered voters. During that time, we only had a total population of over 92 million and just 50.7 million registered voters.

Venezuela-based corporation Smartmatic, co-implementer of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines used in our automated election system (AES), claimed they were merely errors in the coding that did not affect the actual canvassed vote results. How did they face this problem? They simply tweaked the codes right after and claimed it fixed in a jiffy. Never mind the 654 verified irregularities reported by watchdog Kontra Daya then — the problem was fixed and the results are once again officially infallible.

Fast forward to present-day 2013: COMELEC’s official citizen’s arm PPCRV began airing live unofficial tallies of around 10 million votes already cast when only 1.82 percent or 1,418 of the 77,829 precincts have transmitted their votes, equivalent to only 1.42 million votes assuming a maximum of 1,000 voters per precinct. Again, a quick huddle of COMELEC, PPCRV, media and the big trapo parties led to the consensus that it was, yet again, another coding problem, this time in PPCRV’s system end. This supposedly led to the unofficial tally’s accidental double-counting, a scripting error that Smartmatic conveniently claims can also be patched up quicker than you can say Hocus PCOS.

At this point, the numbers are now moot. Kontra Daya correctly pointed out that the fact “that Smartmatic can change the script of the source code during the canvassing shows serious problems with the entire automated system.”  From 2010 to the present, Smartmatic was able to simply and quickly ‘fix’ the AES’ source code with no means of confirming the integrity of the changes made, seeing as there was no source code review opened to the public in the first place to either confirm or dispel observed problems with the electoral system.

Never mind that Kontra Daya reported 367 verified irregularities (as of 11:54PM this evening of election day, and counting) this time around, about 60 percent of which involved PCOS errors. Mass media quickly swallowed COMELEC, Smartmatic and PPCRV’s explanations hook, line and sinker, and wants you to believe in its credibility too. Time to bring out the party poppers and celebrate democracy at work, they say.

Yep. It’s still an Automagic Election season this year.#


On the AES, and how quickly “Watchdog” was shed for “Lapdog”

Already we are being barraged with commentary hailing the Automated Election System (AES) as a success, despite glitches in the hardware, software and other logistical concerns, which they downplayed as minor. With their bets already winning, some have readily shed their misgivings since, hey, their candidate has already won, haven’t they? All of a sudden, the commentary have taken a 360-degree turn, now naysaying IT experts and critics without differentiating the “gloom and doom” prophets from those genuinely concerned.

How quickly our judgment disappears with victory’s taste touching the tip of our tongues. How quickly we forget that from the onset, hundreds of thousands of late registrants were excluded from voting. How convenient to overlook the fact that, despite thousands of documented reports indicating technical glitches that could have been avoided if COMELEC listened to concerns from onset, we are now calling COMELEC’s implementation as a success. Maybe, in the euphoria of victory, they have forgotten to keep tab on updates, such as the one from GMANews.TV indicating that canvassing is still not over yet, and many municipalities still haven’t transmitted results yet.

For want of actualizing the favorable results, people have already shed their “Watchdog” stances into a “Lapdog” one. To the rest who are genuinely concerned with wanting to have a credible and inclusive AES, and who refuse to let the bungling COMELEC get away with it, let us remain vigilant in guarding the elections down to the final moments of canvassing.

Poll watchdog Kontra Daya continues its monitoring, keep yourselves updated in their monitoring page. VoteReportPH continues to map fraud and glitch incident reports with our Ushahidi-based tool. Continue guarding our votes with us. As what the Computer Professionals’ Union tweeted earlier, The electoral battle may be over, but the struggle for AES integrity continues.