• Comelec junks use of voting receipts

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    THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) has junked the use of the voter verification paper audit trail (VVPAT), one of the four minimum security requirements mandated by law, in the May 9 elections.

    The seven members of the Comelec en banc were unanimous in the decision to do away with the system that will provide a paper trail during the polls.

    Comelec Chairman Juan Andres Bautista made the disclosure on Tuesday during a hearing by the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Automated Election System and amid calls by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and election watchdos to activate the security feature to ensure the integrity of the coming electoral exercise.

    The VVPAT system allows voters to verify if their ballots were cast correctly through the
    issuance of a receipt, showing the names of candidates that they voted for.

    It serves as a deterrent against election fraud and provides a means to audit stored electronic results.

    Voting counting machines have three other security features — digital signature, ballot verification or ultra violet detector and the source code review.

    The application of these features is mandated under Republic Act 9369 or the Automated Election Law.

    The security features were part of the contract that the Comelec awarded to technology provider Smartmatic Corp., which supplied the 82,000 Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) counting machines that were used during the 2010 and 2013 elections.

    The Comelec did not activate the VVPAT during the elections in 2010 and 2013.

    Bautista said the voter verification system, if used, may trigger problems that can compromise the results of the elections.

    He explained that a printed receipt can be used as a tool for vote-buying or vote-selling.
    The Comelec chief noted that the Supreme Court has upheld the poll body on the issue in the Capalla vs. Comelec case.

    Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the voting process will be extended by seven hours if the voter verification system is applied.

    Jimenez shot down a suggestion of election watchdog Reform Philippines Coalition (RPC) that the printed receipt be dropped into a separate ballot box before a voter goes out of the polling booth.

    CBCP president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas earlier called on the Comelec to restore the four major security features that were removed from the vote counting machines in 2010 and 2013.

    “The credibility of the elections and the stability of our democracy is at risk if the security and sanctity of the every ballot is compromised,” Villegas said in a pastoral statement.

    Election watchdog Legal Network for Truthful Elections (Lente) also criticized the Comelec’s claim that the activation of the VVPAT would prolong the voting process, saying “what is important in elections is accuracy rather than speed.”

    Clean election advocate Glenn Chong has pointed out that the Comelec decision to deactivate the VVPAT feature would render the elections illegal.

    “That is a violation of the law. The Comelec is bound to commit the same mistake, similar to what it did in the 2010 and 2013 elections,” he said.

    “With the coming 2016 [electoral exercise], its legitimacy, integrity and credibility are again seriously threatened by the very same controversial removal and/or dilution of the AES [automated election system]security features and the very same flagrant violations of our elections laws by those entrusted with their conduct and management,” Chong added.

    Lito Averia, IT consultant of the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections, also criticized the Comelec for its decision, saying it denied voters the right to know if the machines read their votes correctly.

    With the VVPAT feature disabled, there is no way voters can verify if their votes were really counted.

    The VVPAT system is required under Section 6, Paragraph (e) under Minimum System Capabilities of Republic Act 9369.

    But Averia said there is another way to ensure transparency and that is by using counting machines with bigger screens.

    Instead of printing a receipt containing the names of candidates whom the voters chose, the machines will just display the names on the screen.

     

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    9 Comments

    1. Vote buyers will demand to see their receipts after voting, in order for them (voters) to collect their money. It is much better for the COMELEC to discontinue with this practice for the sake of transparency. It would still display the voting results on big screen for everybody to see but cannot be taken out from the voting precint for the vote buyers to see and verify if this person voted for their candidate(s).

      Advocates do not really see that junking this VVPAT will help the COMELEC to close the loopholes and hope to have an end result of fair and honest election. These people so called advocates for fair and honest election probably working for those moneyed and dishonest politicians, that wanted to be elected regardless of the prize that they have to pay. There will be tons of money involved in this election, and whoever have the most, will win the election.

    2. Another thing that I would want to ask with the Commission on Election are:
      1. Are they will be allowing again to distribute excess official ballots to Local Offices of the Commission, more than the required based on the registered voters of a specific towns? Because if that would be the case, there something wrong again with this system. Bakit po? Nagagamit po kasi ito sa mga dayaan.

      2. Pangalawa, kaya ba ng mga VCMs na idetect ang mga pre-shaded ballots? Kaya ba nitong ireject ang mga ganitong pre-shaded, but official ballots?

    3. >> “Bautista said the voter verification system, if used, may trigger problems that can compromise the results of the elections.

      >> “He explained that a printed receipt can be used as a tool for vote-buying or vote-selling.

      >> The Comelec chief noted that the Supreme Court has upheld the poll body on the issue in the Capalla vs. Comelec case.”

      Having a printout of the ballots cast could lead to what was said: if voters can be intimidated to show their receipts to those who they may be beholden to.

      It gives vote buyers during campaigns bullying tactics to those who will vote: “Show me your receipt,” says the candidate, “and I will make sure you get home safe tonight.”

    4. COMELEC’s refusal to issue voting receipts and to restore those other security features of the PCOS machine indicate that there is indeed a grand conspiracy to manipulate the 2016 elections. Ang 2016 national eleksiyon ay napaka importante para sa kinabukasan ng ating bansa at mga susunod na henerasyon. Walang saysay ang eleksiyon kung ang resulta nito ay resulta ng dayaan at hindi ayon sa saloobin ng mga mamayan. Kaya tayong lahat ay dapat manindigan, makialam at magmasid at huwag payagan ang dayaan ngayong darating na 2016 national eleksiyon.

    5. ernie del rosario on

      Does Comelec have the option to violate laws at its whim ? The VVPAT is in the automation law. Why do they not comply with it ? Go to the SC again election reforms advocates !

    6. Comelec is breaking its own law particularly Rep Act 9369. It shows Comelec is going to cheat again, like it did in 2010 & 2013. Beware of monstrous backlash from the people this time around!

    7. To the Commission of Elections:

      We hold you totally responsible if there will be a grand manipulation of election this coming election.

    8. I want to know if this AES has solid protection from hackers. All of these data processing system each has its own weaknessess. This AES is not new and manufactured abroad, meaning its integrity is already compromised from day one it arrived in RP. It has been studied and diagnosed. Many parameters to reckon with like the design, the program, the way it was shipped from abroad, travelling from many places to reach the deastination…etc. And do not discount the people behind the program, were they placed in surveillance, who approached these people. Many to think of…..remember election brings evil to those who want power.