REALLY. Here’s what R.A. 9369 says: “… the Commission on Elections … is hereby authorized to use an automated election system … for the process of voting, counting of votes and canvassing/consolidation and transmittal of results of electoral exercises …” (Emphasis mine)
With PATaS, voting and counting of votes are manual; canvassing/consolidation is automated and transmittal of results is through electronic means. With PCOS, voting is manual; counting of votes and canvassing/consolidation are automated and transmittal of results is through electronic means. It is only with the DRE (Direct Recording Electronic) System, also commonly called the “touch screen” system, that all four steps are automated. But as such, it is also the most non-transparent among all election systems, for which reason, many countries are discarding it and going back to manual.
Clearly, both PATaS and PCOS are hybrid systems and if the pro-Smartmatic Comelec officials and congressmen insist that a hybrid system violates the automation law, then both PATaS and PCOS cannot be used.
But they actually don’t violate the law. The operative word is “authorized”. The law did not use the word “mandated.” This provision is therefore directory and NOT mandatory. Lawyers, and there are many at the Comelec and in Congress, should know that. Unless they intentionally want to deceive the people.
What then are the important criteria by which we should compare the two systems? Let me quote again from the law. The very title says, “AN ACT AUTHORIZING THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS TO USE AN AUTOMATED ELECTION SYSTEM …TO ENCOURAGE TRANSPARENCY, CREDIBILITY, FAIRNESS AND ACCURACY OF ELECTIONS …”
And Section 1 of the law says, “… an automated election system that will ensure the secrecy and sanctity of the ballot and all election, consolidation and transmission documents on (sic) order that the process shall be transparent and credible and that the results shall be fast, accurate and reflective of the genuine will of the people.”
The law requires therefore that the election system be accurate, transparent (to ensure credibility), and fast.
Accuracy. The basis of the accuracy of a system is the manual count. Since PATaS is based on the manual count, it is therefore 100% accurate. It’s a given.
What about Smartmatic’s PCOS-based system? It’s track record is that no mock elections conducted by Smartmatic ever attained the required 99.995% accuracy. Recounts of ballots in recent protest cases yielded huge differences between the PCOS counts and the manual counts. Examples are the recounts in Dinalupihan, Bataan, in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat, and in a town in Nueva Ecija. There would surely have been more had the protest process not been seriously impaired by the non-transparency of the PCOS system. Nobody witnessed the counting! The Election Returns (ERs) were printed by PCOS and could have already been corrupted.Losing candidates who feel they’ve been cheated, have no “trusted document” to base their protest on.
On top of that, 9% of the PCOS units failed to transmit the precinct results in the 2010 elections; 23% of them failed to transmit in 2013. It is suspected that in 2013, the canvassing was not even completed.
Transparency. It’s manual counting in PATaS and therefore completely transparent. The voters would see how their votes are counted. The simultaneous laptop counting and projection of the progress on a big screen enhance the transparency even more.A further enhancement: a snapshot of the ballot face can also be projected on the big screen so the voters would see if the BEI Chairman is reading the names correctly. This is how it should be – automation SHOULD enhance the transparency, not remove it (as in Smartmatic’s PCOS).
Every thirty minutes, PATaS will also transmit the partial results in each precinct to a public website. These partial results will then be consolidated so that the public will not only be able to access the counting in each and every precinct, but can also easily follow the progress of resultsin a municipality, province, and the whole country. I can’t think of any other system that can be this transparent.
Smartmatic’s PCOS system does not have the capability to do the above. Worse, it completely removed the transparency in our election system.
And so on transparency, PCOS gets a grade of zero. Zilch. We fed our ballots into the machine, then we saw nothing. A few days later, Smartmatic, through Comelec, announced the results to us. So who decided on who won the elections? As Joseph Stalin said, “It’s not the people who vote that count; it’s the people who count the votes.”
That our votes did not matter at all, is not far-fetched.
Credibility. Since PATaS is 100% accurate and more transparent than even the simple manual system, it is therefore very credible. PCOS, on the other hand, because it is neither accurate, nor transparent, is, not at all, credible.
Speed. The only advantage PCOS has over PATaS is that it is 12 hours faster. But should we sacrifice accuracy, transparency, credibility, and even cost, just to save 12 hours?
Comelec says that PATaS will cost P36 billion. That is not true, of course. Comelec also says that the PATaS software will take at least one more year to finish. That is again not true. Both the precinct-based software and the consolidation and canvassing system need only final polishing. These are all lies, just like when Comelec says that PATaS violates the law. But I’m not surprised; they lie all the time, to get what they want.
I told Chairman Andy Bautista during our last meeting that there are only two logical reasons why a government official would choose PCOS, but both reasons are illegal and immoral. One, is that there’s a lot of money to be made; and two, with PCOS, it is much easier to control the result of elections.