Colmenares warns of poll fraud in 2016

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MASSIVE fraud will mar the 2016 elections  if the country sticks with the Precint Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines and other technology provided by Smartmatic, House Deputy Minority Leader Neri Colmemares of Bayan Muna party-list warned.

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Colmenares raised the alarm a week after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) inked a P240 million contract with Smartmatic for the diagnostics of 82,000 old PCOS machines that will be used in the 2016 presidential elections.

Comenares said the Comelec should not depend on Smartmatic’s tainted record and instead implement a system where votes are manually counted at the precinct level before electronically transmitting the results to the Board of Canvassers to ensure transparency.

“The technology to be used should be made in-house by Comelec or at least delegated to local IT experts, while its source code should be open for the scrutiny of everyone to ensure transparency. People should see how the votes are counted, and not just rely on dubious machines that only churn out receipts,” Colmenares said in a privileged speech.

“While ensuring a quick count of results should be a priority, the use of privately-owned election technology brings about serious problems. Private automation technology becomes untrustworthy because of its nature as private property immune to public scrutiny, making the elections more vulnerable to fraud and manipulation,” Colmenares added.

The veteran lawmaker said that since the first automated elections were held in 2010 using PCOS machines supplied by Smartmatic, various cases of machine malfunction have been reported, along with issues concerning lack of transparency in election results. In 2010, 10 percent of the machines failed to transmit the election returns to the Comelec. In 2013, the figure jumped to 25 percent.

“It is impossible to establish the legitimacy of poll results without government control of elections and public scrutiny of the election process. Smartmatic has lost its credibility for the shortcomings that transpired in the past two elections,” Colmenares said.

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