THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) has directed technology provider Smartmatic Corp. to start the production of 23,000 Optical Mark Reader (OMR) machines to be used in next year’s elections. The 23,000 OMRs is part of the 93,997 units of counting machines that the poll body will lease in 2016.
The “notice to proceed” also paved the way for the signing on Friday of the P35 million contract between the Comelec and SLI Global Solutions for the testing and review of the source code, a voting software program customized for Philippine elections that will be installed on the OMR machines.
As certifier, SLI will make sure that the source code submitted by Smartmatic meets the specifications laid down by the poll body.
SLI president and chief executive officer Mark Phillips said part of their job is to ensure that the system will not be hacked.
“We will do our own standard, issue a report on the results of the testing and make a certification and recommendation,” Phillips said.
The SLI report will be submitted in January.
SLI, a Colorado-based firm, is the same firm that conducted the source code review during the 2013 elections.
Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said to increase transparency, the Comelec will also conduct a base source code review before October 15.
After the SLI review, the source code will also be reviewed by other groups before February 2016 as provided for in Republic Act 9369.
Bautista said all election stakeholders will be allowed to scrutinize and test the source code.
Senior Commissioner Christian Robert Lim said the source code basically acts as an independent auditor to ensure that the system is running free from possible malicious lines.
“Basically the source code review will ensure how the system will run. To make sure one vote for Mar is one vote for Mar, one vote for Binay is one vote for Binay, not one vote equals five. One person, one vote,” Lim said.
“For further checking that the code in the machines are the same ones certified by SLI, once SLI submitted the final trusted bill we will create a hash code. The moment certain lines are changed, the hash code also changes. The hash code will appear in election returns, in documents printed out by machines so that watchers or the public can compare if the code is the same,” he added.