Manual count can prevent manipulation

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THE controversial move of the Commission on Elections (Co­melec) to recall more than 70,000 compact flash (CF) cards a week before the 2010 elections is one of the reasons why many are still questioning the credibility of the automated election system. Worst, there is no stopping the poll body from repeating such a move this coming May 13 mid-term elections.

Former Comelec commissioner Gus Lagman, explained that CF cards which serve as the storage medium for the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines, play a very important role in the polls because it contains all important details as well as the number of votes cast in a particular precinct.

He also said that without proper safeguards to protect the cards and their content it would remain vulnerable to manipulation that could change the results of the elections.

“They [Comelec] recalled it one week before the May 2010 presidential elections, in order for them to make some corrections, but nobody knows what kind of changes they made,” Lagman said.

The former Comelec official noted that there are ways to safeguard the CF cards and this though a review of the source codes which, unfortunately, was disallowed by the Comelec.

He said that without the source code review, the public will not know if the CF cards are storing the correct data entered in the PCOS machines.

But since the source code review is not possible at this point, Lagman said, the only way to make sure that the CF cards are reading the correct entries made in the PCOS is though a manual parallel count on the precinct level.

He insisted that by allowing a manual count, all the questions and concerns regarding election results will be addressed properly.

Lagman noted that the Comelec only needs to allot an additional five to 12 hours for the manual parallel tally of votes which is a small price to pay for a credible election.

“We have spent billions of pesos for the PCOS machines which has been the cause of all our election problems,” he added.

Jefferson Antiporda

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