Were the automated polls a success?

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Companies engaging in projects identify factors that can be measured in order to assess the success or failure of a project. The factors are often referred to as key results areas. Along with it is a set of key results index.

The same should be true with assessing the performance of the automated election system (AES). There should be a set of measurable factors in order to come up with an objective assessment.

Fortunately, the Election Automation Law or Republic Act No. 8436 as amended by Republic Act No. 9369, identifies certain factors:

Ensure secrecy and sanctity of the ballot
The process is transparent and credible
The results shall be fast and reflective of the genuine will of the people
The AES must perform properly, securely, and accurately

The protection of the secrecy and sanctity of the ballot is not totally a technology matter. There were reported instances of breach of secrecy and sanctity of the ballot such as the Board of Election Inspectors inserting the voters’ ballots (instead of the voters doing it themselves), partisan watchers providing assistance to voters, voters seated too close to each other exposing their choices, a watcher from a political party shading the ballot for a voter, and unidentified civilians coaching voters.

Was the process transparent? No one ever saw how the vote counting machine (PCOS/VCM) assessed the marks on his ballot or saw how his vote was recorded or saw if his vote was counted or saw how the election return (ER) was generated and transmitted. At the canvassing centers, no voter saw how the ERs were received and processed.

Receipt of the ERs by stakeholders, too, was not quite transparent. While the ERs received via the transparency server bore time stamps and PCOS/VCM IDs, the transmission related data was not received – no IP address, no SIM card phone number or other source identifying marks. The recipients were not quite sure of the source of the transmission.

Credibility of the process and the results of the elections came under attack when Smartmatic’s Mr. Marlon Garcia, without the proper authority from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) En Banc, interfered with the operations of the transparency server and installed a program supposedly to correct the display of the Spanish letter “ñ” that appeared in some of the candidates’ names as a “?”. Of course, the consolidation reports generated by recipients were unofficial, but the ERs received by the transparency server were official and the transparency server is publicly seen as an official part of the AES.

Receipt of ERs was fast. By 11:59:59 PM of May 9, 2016, 76,520 ERs or 81.62% of expected ERs had already been received. At 11:59:59 PM of May 10, 2016, 94.63% of ERs had been received. Ten (10) days after elections, twelve winning Senators had been proclaimed winners. By May 30, 2016, Congress in joint session had proclaimed the winners of the presidential and vice presidential contests.

One factor not specifically defined in the election law is completeness of the results. But it is the principle in any democratic election that all votes matter and all votes must be counted. Before the elections, the Comelec was looking at 90% transmission of results knowing that in 2010 only about 92% of ERs were transmitted and in 2013, only a little over 76% of ERs were received. As at 9:03:00 AM of May 10, 2016, the target of 90% transmission had been surpassed. By May 26, 2016 96.69% of ERs had been received.

Are the results reflective of the will of the people? The incursion into the AES by Smartmatic’s Garcia raised doubts on the integrity and credibility of the election results. Allegations of election results manipulation had been raised.

Did the system perform properly? Malfunctions were reported but only a few PCOS/VCM had to be replaced. Operations in the other PCOS/VCM were recovered, but some after two or three hours. There are no reported statistics, but some voters simply gave up their opportunity to vote after the long wait. There were reports that some thirty CCS laptops had malfunctioned.

Did the system perform securely? Smartmatic’s Garcia’s unilateral action proved that any insider can come in, break through the security protocol, and interfere with the AES.

Did the system perform accurately? Initial results of the random manual audit indicate that the vote counting machine accuracy is at 99.884% which is below the 99.995% set by the poll body. The 99.995% accuracy rating translates to one error mark for every 20,000 marks. The 99.884% rating translates to twenty-three error marks.

Using a simple non-discriminatory pass-fail assessment, since no other way of rating the performance of the AES had been established, it can be seen that the AES passed in only two (2) of the nine (9) factors listed above.

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7 Comments

  1. Juan T. Delacruz on

    There are several things that need to be in order, and the question that is being asked here is about the performance of the AES, isn’t it?

    The Automated Election System or AES for short are the machines, run by programs used in the election. Automation is the main word because voting is no longer done manually. When the voting cards are fed into the VCM located all over the country, it read the DATA or the votes, and transmits the information to the main server(s) in Manila to be stored. If for some reasons that there were failures during the transmission, that problem is beyond the control of SMARTMATIC and COMELEC and blame this whoever the IP provider for the election. Therefore, the use of Automated Election System was a success, no doubt about it.

    As far as system security is concerned, it was secured because on how the system was configured and networked. People have assumed that anybody can access the SMARTMATIC network, position their laptop, type in the IP address of the COMELEC and start hijacking those votes that are being transmitted to the main server and make changes. This type of situation is still far from the truth, be able to hijack those votes being transmitted by the VCM’s to the main server(s) because the laptop in use is not recognized within the network. Evidently, it is missing something, dahil hidi pinapansin yung mga VCM yung laptop ni Mokong.

    MAC Address is needed and the laptop used by Mokong intended to hijack votes is not recognized by any of the VCM’s. MAC address consist of 6 groups of hexadecimal numbers imbedded in the system and example is: 3A-9E-48-D2-5F-41. Digital translation is 0-9 and A-F or up to 16 characters per group. These numbers are registered and patented, rightfully belonged to SMARMATIC Corporation along with the SOURC CODE of their programs. These Patents are the “Trade Secrets” of any company and it cannot be revealed in any way, shape or forms because they are protected under the International Law. I hope the Justices or judges are aware of this International law, as well.

    Other areas such as vote buying during the election is not the responsibility of SMARTMATIC Corporation and neither the COMELEC. Blame it to the Army or PNP assigned to that particular location(s) for allowing such activities to happen. As far as accuracy is concerned, accuracy in reading the votes? I am sure the VCM machines were reading the votes accurately if they were filled out correctly. If two places were marked for one position, the machine will void the vote and if the position is left blank, the machine cannot read anything, and it will left the position blank or zero.

    In conclusion, the AES system was success, COMELEC and SMARTMATIC should be commended, and of course, sore losers cannot be avoided because they all have the rights to cry, accuse, file lawsuits, or anything they wishes to do, but in the end, they will know that the Automation of Election in the Philippines is a success.

    • This last election was totally rigged and many evidence showed of fraudulent preshaded ballots were fed into the VOting counting machine and many INC members votes were discarded and it was reported to Senate and Marcos has every right to protest .

  2. ernie del rosario on

    So, Lito your end rating is 22.22% passed. It is 3.38 times less than the passing grade that we are familiar with, 75%. So, it is worse than a smelly, toxic, utterly ugly garbage. Garbage that must be brought to a spot somewhere at the dead-center of the nine-dot dash in the South China Sea and burned to ashes in an 100% oxygen-devoid incinerator including in a calibrated way its direct and contributing perpetrators, both foreign and local.

  3. ernie del rosario on

    Trust and transparency are two sides of the same coin. This means that trust cannot be won without the needed degree of transparency being provided. Simply said, no transparency, no trust and in the end, NO LEGITIMACY. But transparency provision is not a binary thing meaning you either have it completely or completely none. Rather, it is a variable attribute such as temperature, pressure, etc.We can have a token (like being just lukewarm) transparency provision at one end or a total transparency (like having temperatures where molecular, even atomic and nucleic structures break down) where we need exotic technologies not yet invented for enabling. At some point we should have acceptable transparency to accept the legitimacy of the process outcome. So, the need for transparency and the extent this MUST be provided for have for one a DIRECT (linearly ? or maybe even exponentially ? we don’t know yet for nobody has quantified this yet) dependency with historical performance of the system as a metric to determine its credibility and/or its integrity.

    Now let’s rewind our automated election history across 6 years or three national elections. We have seen that the 2010 foray was terribly opaque so the advocates mounted relentless demands for its junking or at the very least significantly improved transparency in the next election. What happened in 2013 ? And then in 2016 ? Did transparency and performance credibility increase across these two subsequent national elections ? DEFINITELY NOT ! In fact these two parameters in totality have worsened !!! If 2010 performance was a complete technological failure, 2013’s racheted up to being more disastrous. Now in 2016, we have ran out of the needed adjective that can describe its sordidness best. But let’s try… – election doomsday ? total death of democratic elections ? election Armageddon ?

    So, ergo Lito my obvious conclusion is that the 2016 was definitely NOT a success at all. It was even worse than the above three already extreme descriptions – a one-of-a-kind EVIL thing and that without applying extreme destruction measures on the electoral system that stung us three times in a row, let us rather not have elections anymore and save money. Three strikes are more than enough !

  4. Leodegardo Pruna on

    Why not say that the election did not pass the test and therefore was a failure. Bautista should not stay any longer in his post. God save the Philippines.