A former official of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) strongly opposed the poll body’s decision to pilot test Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) and internet voting during the 2016 presidential elections.
Former Comelec Commissioner Augusto “Gus” Lagman said he is not in favor of the DRE because this voting technology is not transparent.
Lagman said voters will not be able to see how a vote will be read and how it will be counted under the DRE.
“DRE is the most non-transparent (of all voting technologies),” Lagman said in an interview.
The DRE is a touch screen voting system which is fully automated from voting to counting and final transmission of results to the canvassing centers at the provincial and regional levels.
“Because it is touch screen, you don’t know if the same result is sent to the database unless there’s a printout (of vote results),” he added.
The touch screen voting system was one of the methods used by the poll body in the August 2008 elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Lagman said even if there is a print out of votes, it is still possible that a different candidate will be voted.
He maintained that the Comelec is only wasting millions of taxpayers’ money for a system that may not be adopted in the long run.
“Bakit nagpapabid-out pa ng DRE, useless it’s a waste of our money. I’m a taxpayer, so sayang naman ang pera natin hindi naman i-adopt yan kasi napakamahal iyan,” he said.
Lagman, a co-convenor of the Automated Election System (AES) Watch, also opposed the use of Internet voting for overseas absentee voters (OAV), saying it is prone to breaches in security.
“Paano malalaman kung sino ang bomoto, baka at gunpoint na bumobuto siya sa Internet. So paano maso-solve yun, so kailangan po muna hanapin natin ng solusyon yun,” he said.
He pointed out that he has not yet seen any Internet voting system in Philippine elections that will help resolve online voting.
In January 2007, the Comelec approved the holding of OAV in Singapore using the Internet voting system, but it was eventually declared as a “non-binding” exercise.
The commission is set to pilot test the DRE in highly urbanized areas, and Internet voting for OAV in the 2016 polls.
Lagman also said the Comelec should not use the old Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines in 2016.
He added that the Comelec should blacklist the Smartmatic, provider of the PCOS machines in two previous polls, from participating in the bidding by the Comelec for the procurement of additional 23,000 AES.
The AES Watch has long been pushing for the use of the Open Election System (OES) or the Transparent and Credible Election System (TCrES).
Under the TCrEs and OES, the voting and counting on the precinct level shall be done manually while transmission and canvassing shall be automated.