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Home Opinion Op-Ed Columns Understanding the automated election system used in 2010, 2013 and 2016

Understanding the automated election system used in 2010, 2013 and 2016

 

GUS LAGMAN

THE technology recommended by the Comelec Advisory Council (CAC) in 2008 for the 2010 elections was optical mark recognition (OMR). Given that recommendation, the bidding procedure conducted in mid-2009 (for the 2010 elections) specified only that technology, thereby barring the entry of non-OMR solutions, some of which are known today to be much better ones. In the bidding conducted in 2009, Smartmatic’s precinct count optical scan (PCOS) won the contract, amid-controversies in the conduct of the bidding.

And Smartmatic’s PCOS won again in 2013 and 2016.

 

In the PCOS system, the names of all the candidates — from the presidential contest, all the way down to the municipal councilors and all the candidates in the ARMM (governor and assemblymen) — are pre-printed in the ballots. Voters signify their choices by marking the ovals opposite the names of the candidates.

Each voter then takes his ballot to the PCOS machine and feeds it into the machine, which then reads the markings in the ballot and stores them in its memory. The ballot is marked as having been read, then falls into the ballot box.

At the end of the voting period, a member of the Board of Inspectors (BEI) presses a key in the machine indicating such, and triggering the counting of the markings (equivalent of votes for the candidates) and storing the computed totals beside their corresponding candidate names.

Eight copies of the election returns (ER) are then printed and checked for any visible defect. If there is none, then the BEI, after digitally signing the soft copy of the ER, presses another key to electronically transmit the ER data to the server (computer) at the city/municipal board of canvassers (C/MBOC). Upon successful transmission of the ER data, PCOS then prints an additional 22 copies of the ER, for distribution to the representatives of the political parties in the city/municipality. All printed copies are signed by the members of the BEI before distribution. The 30 copies that are printed is a requirement of Republic Act 9369.

Upon receipt of a precinct ER, the C/MBOC server stores the data, and when all the precincts have reported their ERs, it canvasses and consolidates all the votes reported, then prints the statement of votes (SOV) and the certificate of canvass (COC) for the city/municipality. If the C/MBOC finds no visible defects in the two reports, then the soft copy of the COC, after having been digitally signed, is electronically transmitted to the server of the provincial board of canvassers (PBOC).

Based on the COC, the candidates for mayor, vice mayor and councilors garnering the highest votes can be proclaimed winners.

Upon receipt of a COC from a C/MBOC, the PBOC server stores the data, and when all the C/MBOCs have reported their COCs, it canvasses and consolidates all the votes reported, then prints the SOV and COC for the province. If the PBOC finds no visible defects in the two reports, the soft copy of the Provincial COC (PCOC), after having been digitally signed, is electronically transmitted to the server of the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC).

Based on the PCOC, the candidates for governor, vice-governor, members of the provincial board and congressman garnering the highest votes can be proclaimed winners.

Upon receipt of a COC from a PBOC, the NBOC server stores the data, and when all the PBOCs have reported their COCs, it canvasses and consolidates all the votes reported, then prints the National Statement of Votes and COC. Congress, however, has modified these procedures, as they have done in the past three automated elections. The NBOC members opted instead to manually read the votes garnered by each presidential and vice-presidential candidate in each printed COC, as they are received from the PBOCs, canvass and consolidate them manually, then post the results on a whiteboard. This modification has, of course, made the final consolidation more transparent, as it is done in front of the public present in Congress, and the TV cameras.

After the two NCOCs are completed by Congress and the Commelec and after the signing of all the documents, the winning national candidates are proclaimed, thus ending the election period. The whole process, from Election Day to the proclamation of the winners, took approximately two to three weeks, in the past three automated elections.

 

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