Time to Change: Secret Voting-Public Counting (SVPC) instead of PCOS


Last of two parts

[The first part of Nelson Celis’ illuminating "Time to Change: Secret Voting-Public Counting (SVPC) instead of PCOS” appeared on Wednesday August 13. There we announced that this concluding part would come out today Tuesday August 19. The Let’s Face IT! column will also come out tomorrow Wednesday, which is its regular day of publication. The article will be by former Comelec Commissioner Gus Lagman.]

Taking off from our question in last issue of Let’s Face IT! – “How does SVPC work with existing PCOS machines, tablets as DREs, or other available technologies?” AES Watch co-conveners gathered their brains together on how to answer this question. In the middle of brainstorming, they just remembered that Comelec Chairman Brillantes has been telling IT experts of AES Watch not to speak about legal matters as they are not lawyers. Perhaps he forgot that behind these IT experts are the likes of Atty. Harry Roque and Atty. Romel Bagares.

Ironically, the lawyers of Comelec who handled the election automation project were actually those who do not understand the legal matters of RA 9369. For their implementation of the law in the 2010 and 2013 elections violated RA 9369. Sorry! But this was the observation of AES Watch and was translated to two pending cases filed in 2010 and 2013 with the Ombudsman.

Would you believe that not a single hearing has been conducted by the Ombudsman since then? What Chairman Brillantes does not know is that IT experts played a key role in crafting most of the RA 9369 provisions.

How does SVPC work?
With the absence of the RA 9369’s Implementing Rules and Regulations (Manila Times, July 1, 2014, http://www.manilatimes.net/back-to-basics-irr-of-ra-9369-needed/108298/), AES Watch recommends SVPC to work with the combination of AES technology with Batas Pambansa Blg. 881 Section 206. That means, the board of election inspectors (BEIs) shall publicly count in the polling place the votes cast and ascertain the results through the use of any type of AES technology.

Let’s discuss some AES technologies in an SVPC environment:

Use of the existing PCOS machines with Filipino groups managing its implementation and junking Smartmatic definitely. There’s no need to invest new capital but just rather recondition all AES-related components as these are considered sunk cost. Two ways to realize SVPC after closing of the precincts:

BEI feeds the shaded ballots one by one to the PCOS for ballot appreciation while simultaneously projecting the ballot image via projector or TV for public viewing. As the ballots are appreciated, the running total of votes casts are also verified by the BEIs and watchers. If the final tabulation by the PCOS has been verified correct by the BEIs, the ER shall be electronically transmitted with digital signatures.

BEIs count the shaded ballots one by one and compare with publicly viewed PCOS appreciation. The manual ER and that produced by the PCOS should match; if equal, the digitally-signed ER shall be electronically transmitted.

Adopt the Transparency and Credible Election System (TCrES) proposed by AES Watch co-convener, Namfrel/Transparency Elections, as presented by former Comelec Commissioner Gus Lagman on July 27, 2014 at the AES Technology Fair (details in the Let’s Face IT! column in tomorrow’s (Wednesday August 20) issue).

Adopt a DRE system using hand held tablets (e.g., iPad). The devices shall be acquired from the IT vendors in the locality of the polling centers so that logistical requirements and technical support would be borne by the suppliers. After elections, the tablets shall be donated to DepEd and thus eliminating other logistical and warehousing cost. Here’s how it works after closing of the precincts:

BEIs count the votes casts from ordinary paper ballots one by one and these are simultaneously inputted to the tablet and projected for public viewing. This should result in instant equivalence of the manual count with that stored in the tablet; if equal, the digitally-signed ER shall be electronically transmitted.

Adopt a DRE system (e.g. tablets or specialized devices) – Casting of votes is through the selection of candidates in the DRE devices. This eliminates the use of any type of paper ballots. Here’s how it works after closing of the precincts:

BEIs verify the votes cast in the DRE one by one, together with the running total, while projecting the results for public viewing. If verified correct, the digitally-signed ER shall be electronically transmitted.

Combination of above or other technologies for the different regions of the country

This goes to say that the 2016 AES should be equipped with facility for public counting and viewing for transparency. Besides, SVPC provides straightforward verification of votes cast. The use of cameras and cellphones by watchers can also capture the public counting proceedings of the SVPC environment as additional control mechanisms. The images taken may also be used as evidence.

Let’s Face IT! our country is still not ready to implement a trustworthy AES at this point in time based on our experiences in 2010 and 2013. Even other advanced countries reverted back to manual elections. Of course, we cannot also go back to the pure manual counting and canvassing methods of the past as we might experience the prevalence of “dagdag-bawas” when the ballots boxes and ERs are moved out of the precincts. A typical example was the infamous incident called “Hello Garci” in the 2004 elections..


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  1. The SVPC solution is a very good candidate for a Rube Goldberg machine award in which it has a good chance of winning hands down. A Rube Goldberg machine is a contraption, invention, device or apparatus that is deliberately over-engineered or overdone to perform a very simple task in a very complicated fashion, usually including a chain reaction. The expression is named after American cartoonist and inventor Rube Goldberg (1883–1970). Lots of creativity and perfection (like that in the Napoles scam) THOUGH is necessary while making this machine (source: Wikipedia except for the mention of Napoles).

    Why not just keep the thing simple like the manual voting, tallying and ER preparation at the precincts (like in the past, securely transporting the ERS to the City/Municipal sites, digitizing the ERs in these sites, producing the C/MCOCs for electronic transmission to the Provincial for generating the PCOCs and Central servers (near-simultaneous with the transmission to the Provincial Servers; no more central Transparency Server please !) for producing the national canvass. There are already operable and reusable servers in each of the cities and municipalities, provincial and central sites – remnants of the 2010/2013 farcical elections. So no need to buy again. THIS IS AN ENTIRELY PCOS-FREE OPTION. REMEMBER THE 2010 AND 2013 FRAUD WERE COMMITTED AT THE PCOS LEVEL. WHAT TO DO WITH THE OLD PCOS ? SELL THEM TO SMARTMATIC AT THE ORIGINAL PRICE AT BAKA MAY MALOKO SILA ULING DUMB COUNTRY ELECTIONS MANAGEMENT BODIES OR IF THEY REFUSE TO BUY THEIR OWN GARBAGE BURN THEM AT PLAZA ROMA WITH ALL SMARTMATIC AND COMELEC PEOPLE (plus the relevant JCOC members in 2010 and 2013) WHO WERE INVOLVED IN THE PAST PCOS MESS WATCHING plus with full local and international media coverage.

  2. With respect to the suggestions on including means of transparency like cameras and tablets, etc., this would mean an increase in operating costs because transparency in the AES using the PCOS machines have already been insured through the system of checking the machines prior to electoral operations that were observed by representatives from all concerned parties. Thus using the BEI to each put in each ballot is the same as in the current system wherein the voter inserts the ballot to the machine. As to have a running count of the voting while the precincts are still open, I have never known of such a system even in the U.S. and Europe where there is a running count. Such a system although novel has yet to be undertaken. Going back to each ballot to be inserted by the BEI, that would be redundant and time consuming and adds another human factor in the supposedly automated process. The current system need only be upgraded and it can be upgraded so there is no issue with regards to changing the system and the machines for 2016.

  3. I did a presentation about my new “Fast Manual Voting System” during the AES Forum last July 27, and I cannot see any reason of not accepting this kind of system. This will save a lot of money for the government and will create jobs for the local Filipinos.

  4. That PCOS – will save this administration from total defeat this coming 2016 elections.

    Sixto Brillantes must go first and the PCOS will evaporate.

    That simple.