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CONTENTS BUSINESS NATION WORLD TECHNOLOGY HEALTH/LIFESTYLE
Making Every Filipino Vote Count
With PCOS machines back
in harness, Comelec and the
citizenry must join hands to
ensure the peoples will wins
With the Supreme Court decision allowing
the Commission on Elections to buy all
82,200 Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS)
machines used in the 2010 elections, the
effort to safeguard election integrity shifts
to both the Comelec and the citizenry,
including election workers of political
groups, joining hands to institute and
implement iron-clad mechanisms against
computerized fraud.
In this two-part article, The CenSEI Report
reviews the technology, procedures and
2010 performance of the PCOS automated
election system (AES), then expounds on
recommended measures to help safeguard
the integrity of elections using the voting,
counting and canvassing technology and
process. TIIs hrsL purL wIII Iocus on Iow
well or not so well PCOS-AES did in 2010.
Right from the start, the election
automation project was fraught with
problems. It began two decades ago when
then Comelec Chairman Christian Monsod
made it part of his election modernization
program, as an ABS-CBN timeline recounts.
In 1994 the Commission was ready to bid
out an automation project, but Congress
failed to pass a law mandating AES. RA
8436 was passed in December 1997, for
national elections the following year, but
the 1998 voting and counting were again
manual (see The Long Road to Election
Automation graphic on page 16).
n Ier hrsL State of the Nation Address
in 2001, Gloria Arroyo declared election
STRATEGY POINTS
In reusing the PCOS automated election
system, top priority is addressing its
weaknesses and failings laid bare in the
2010 polls
Safeguards and procedures were sidestepped
in last elections. Without them, it would be
better to go back to manual counting
Election software manipulation happens even
in advanced nations. Unless it can be stopped,
automated polls are not secure
By Ricardo Saludo

Smartmatics Cesar Flores shows PCOS features to Senators


Koko Pimentel and Juan Ponce Enrile YouTube
NATION
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:NKcenSEI8KVUXZ - July 2-8, 2012
automation a top priority of her
administration and released 2 billion for
the project. It was covered in Chapter 13 of
the 2004-2010 Medium-Term Philippine
Development Plan. Comelec contracted
Megu PucIhc ConsorLIum Lo underLuke AES
in 2004, but the Supreme Court voided the
1-billion deal for violating procurement
laws and rules. RA 9369 was passed in
2007 for the 2010 polls, and 11.3 billion
was allocated by Congress,
bringing the total provided
by the Arroyo government
to $15 billion.
Automated national
eIecLIons hnuIIy becume
reality in May 2010, under
the system procured by
Comelec from Smartmatic-
TIM Corporation, a
joint venture between
Smartmatic, a London-
headquartered, Latin
American-run information
technology company, and Makati-based,
Filipino-owned Total Information
Management. The public so used to
waiting days or weeks of canvassing were
astounded when results were speedily
canvassed and widely accepted. Municipal,
provincial, and regional tallies got to the
Comelec data server within hours of
polls closing.
By midnight on Election Day, 60% of
results had been transmitted, recounted
the Comelec Advisory Council in its report
on use of the AES in the 2010 elections,
and 80% the next day. Local candidates
were proclaimed in 24 hours, and senators
within a week, the CAC added. Losers in
the presidential and vice-presidential races
conceded even beIore LIe oIhcIuI counL In
Congress began. Plainly, it was night and
day vis-a-vis manual polls. As for problems,
the CAC said they were not severe enough
to allow interested parties to manipulate
the election results.
Where PCOS went
wrong. The Center for
People Empowerment in
Governance has a markedly
different view. CenPEG
recounted in its Incident
Reports on the May 10,
2010 Automated Elections
eIgIL mujor dehcIencIes:
PCOS malfunctions and
breakdowns, defective
memory cards (containing
operating programs),
transmission snafus and connectivity
probIems, beIow-specIhcuLIon LIermuI
paper, missing or misused ultraviolet
scanners, and old-fashioned voter
disenfranchisement, long queues, vote
buying and other irregularities.
The result of CenPEGs Project 3030 with
the European Union, the report wondered:
Is success measurable only by how
fast election results are which itself
is disputable? ... Speed thus became the
yardstick of success to the extent that
Speed of counting
was the yardstick
of success,' so that
many people
overlooked what
was happening
on the ground
~ Center for People
Empowerment
for Governance
Making every vote count
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many people overlooked what
really happened on the ground.
Indeed, the very speed of results
transmission raised questions:
Until now, Comelec cannot
explain convincingly how and
why election results reached
national canvassing servers so
fast starting even an hour
beIore LIe oIhcIuI cIosure oI
voting when the automated
election system at the precinct
level was hounded by technical
breakdowns and irregularities.
In fact, argued CenPEG,
minimum technical and legal
safeguards were set aside,
raising serious questions
about the integrity of results.
Among these failings were the
absence of an independent
source code review, inadequate
voter education and poll watch
training, poor estimation of
the country's infrastructures
to support a modern election
technology, absence of
voLers' verIhubIIILy, deIuys In
preparation and tendency to
short-cut requirements, delayed
or last-hour issuance of Comelec
general instructions, and
inadequate mock elections and
heId LesLs.
PCOS defenders would note that
some leaders of CenPEG, like
former Philippine Computer
Society head Augusto Lagman,
who subsequently served as
Comelec commissioner until
recently, had lobbied for the rival
Open Election System.
June-October 1993
Under Chairman Christian Monsods 1992
modernization program, the Commission on Elections
obtained advice from international consultants and
viewed possible technologies abroad, to shortlist election
automation options

January-December 1994
Anticipating the passage of a poll automation law,
Comelec made preparations for automation, including
bidding for equipment, but no legislation was passed

June 7, 1995
President Fidel Ramos signs RA 8046 authorizing pilot-
testing of automation in the frst Autonomous Region in
Muslim Mindanao elections in 1996

June 11, 1996
Voters Registration Act of 1996 mandated a
computerized and updated voters lists

September 9, 1996
Automated ARMM elections were declared successful.
In October-December, the equipment was demonstrated
nationwide

December 22, 1997
Election Modernization Act (RA 8436) enacted,
authorizing the Commission on
Elections to use an automated election system (AES) in
the May 1998 polls

November-December 2000
Comelec conducted bidding for Automated Counting
and Consolidation of Results Systems (Accors) project,
but the bidding failed

July 23, 2001
In her frst State of the Nation Address, President
Gloria Arroyo released 2 billion for election automation
THE LON
Co
GMA
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THE LONG ROAD TO ELECTION AUTOMATION
Compiled from timelines by ABS-CBN and
GMA 7 on Mega Pacifc deal and 2010 elections
October 29, 2002
Comelec set modernization of 2004 elections in
Resolution No. 02-170
January and February 2003
President Arroyo released a total of 3 billion for
2004 election automation
April 15, 2003
Comelec awarded 1-billion 2004 automation
contract to Mega Pacic Consortium
August 5, 2003
After Comelec denied petitions against Mega Pacifc
deal, the Information Technology Foundation of the
Philippines petitions the Supreme Court to void
the contract
January 13, 2004
The Supreme Court voided the Mega Pacic
contract, citing clear violation of law and ... reckless
disregard of [Comelecs] own bidding rules and
procedure." The High Court also instructed the
Ombudsman to investigate the deal.

June 30, 2006
After repeated prodding by the Supreme Court,
Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez recommended
charges over the Mega Pacic deaI against
members of the Comelec bidding committee that
handled it, and referred Commissioner Resurreccion
Borra to Congress for possible impeachment

September 27, 2006
Ombudsman Gutierrez absolves all respondents
in Mega Pacifc controversy for "lack of probable
cause, prompting nine senators to petition the High
Court the next month to annul the Ombudsmans
ruling and cite her in contempt
January 23,
2007
Congress
enacts Election
Automation Law of 2007
(RA 9369) mandating the automation of the
2010 elections

August 11, 2008
AES was pilot-tested in the Autonomous
Region in Muslim Mindanao, with positive
assessments from ARMM voters and the Comelec
Advisory Council

March 24, 2009
RA 9295 allocated 11.3 billion for election
automation

June 10, 2009
After disqualifying seven bidders, reconsidering four,
and testing equipment, Comelec awarded the AES
deal to Smartmatic-TIM, which put in the lowest bid
of 7.2 billion

May 2010
After testing glitches were addressed with
new computer memory cards, the Precinct
Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines are
used in the May 2010 national elections, with
widespread acceptance by the electorate and
foreign observers. There were claims of false
transmission of results by a cheating syndicate
with hidden machines, but the Congress report
on the 2010 polls declared there was no failure
of elections, while urging that all the loopholes
in the PCOS and the automated election
process should be frmly plugged by either
the current provider or by another more
assiduous supplier.
Making every vote count
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OES would retain manual voting and
counting, but use computers to encode and
transmit precinct results via Internet and
cellphone to canvassing centers and the
Comelec, while posting scanned election
returns online.
With more than 80,000 encoders plus
hundreds of thousands of ERs online, OES
proponents argued, massive fraud would be
hard to commit and even harder to conceal
under the far less costly P4-billion system.
And there would be less dependence
on complex, failure-prone software and
hardware. But Comelec chose the PCOS
system, which uses optical mark readers
(OMR) to count votes indicated with
shadings in multiple choice ballots.
What risks to address. Other entities
with no rival system to advocate have
also assessed PCOS risks. PucIhc SLruLegy &
Assessments, a security, crisis management
and business consultancy, produced a
risk assessment of the system in April
2010. PSA cited lack of testing, unclear
storage facilities, undisclosed source code
needed to verify programming, power
shortages and transmission glitches, and
some unclear or doubtful arrangements
for digital keys, machine transport, ballot
printing, staff training, and voter lists (see
pages 3-7 in PSA report). Not to mention
hackers and jammers.
San Beda law professor Farrahmila A. Mala
and Centro Escolar professor Rafael D.
PungIIInun oI LIe SocIuI ArLs & HumunILIes
Department made a detailed study of legal,
technical and operational aspects of the
AES. The report, published in Lumina, the
journal of Bicols Holy Name University,

PCOS voting and counting, outlined by former Comelec Commissioner Augusto Lagman
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in March last year, looked closely at how
the system and its countless procedures
and safeguards complied with provisions
of the 2007 election automation law, as
well as upright voting and canvassing
standards. Contingency and failure
measures were also explained, as well as
the crucial random manual
uudILs In hve precIncLs per
district needed to check if
the system worked.
The Consortium on
Electoral Reforms, under
election advocate Ramon
Casiple of the Institute
for Political and Electoral
Reforms, undertook its own
monitoring and assessment
program, Bantay Eleksyon
2010, with assistance from
the EU, U.S. Agency for
International Development
(USAID), the U.N.
Democracy Fund, and the
International Foundation
for Electoral Systems.
CER`s hnuI reporL,
Successful Automated
Election System Leads to
an Essentially Fair and
Free 2010 Philippine
Elections, provided a
comprehensive analysis
and reporting of PCOS as
designed and in action,
plus the historical,
legislative, political and
procurement aspects
of AES and the 2010
elections.
The CER report detailed
problems in various areas:
failure of elections in certain areas, some
ballot rejection, absence of secrecy folders,
the use of different kinds of thermal paper
and ballots, a citizens watchdog report of
7,500 PCOS machines failing to transmit
results (almost one-tenth of the total),
and nearly 800 incidents involving the

PCOS machine components, as presented in UP College of Law-CenPEG 2009 report


Making every vote count
From Tanggulang Demokrasya presentation on alleged PCOS fraud in 2010 elections
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counting devices, including 457 monitored
by Bantay Eleksyon. Perhaps the most
sIgnIhcunL und wIdespreud IuIIIng,
however, were the delays and defective
procedures in the random manual
audits to check PCOS performance and
counting accuracy.
Computerized cheating conspiracy?
Strict implementation of PCOS safeguards
and standards is needed to block possible
computerized cheating conspiracies,
Back in 2004, the Supreme Court voided the Mega
Pacifc contract to automate the May 2004 elections.
This year, objectors led by Davao Archbishop
Fernando Capalla again hailed the Commission
on Elections to the High Court over its decision to
buy the 82,200 Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS)
vote counting machines. But this time, the Comelec
got its way.
Last year Comelec asked Congress for 10.4 billion
so it could get a new automated election system
(AES) for the 2013 elections. But it got 7.96 billion.
That sum, according to the Comelec, ruled out the
possibility of acquiring or leasing a new AES from a
new provider. So on March 30, 2012, the Comelec
entered into a contract with Smartmatic-TIM for the
purchase of the PCOS machines and all related
systems used in the 2010 elections for 1.83 billion,
after the 7.2 billion rental paid in 2010 was deducted
from the purchase price.
Four separate petitions were fled before the Supreme
Court seeking to nullify the Comelecs exercise of the
option to purchase (OTP) the machines. Reasons:
1) the option period provided for in the AES
contract between the Comelec and Smartmatic-TIM
had already lapsed and, thus, could no longer
be extended, such extension being prohibited by
the contract
2) the extension of the option period
and the exercise of the option without
competitive public bidding contravene
the provisions of RA 9184
3) despite the palpable infrmities
and defects of the PCOS machines,
the Comelec purchased the same in
contravention of the standards laid down in RA 9369.
The Court dismissed the petitions.
On the frst issue (OTP already lapsed), the Court
held that "While the contract indeed specifcally
required the Comelec to notify Smartmatic-TIM of its
OTP the subject goods until December 31, 2010, a
reading of the other provisions of the AES contract
would show that the parties are given the right to
amend the contract which may include the period
within which to exercise the option. There is, likewise,
no prohibition on the extension of the period, provided
that the contract is still effective.
On the second issue (lack of public bidding), Justice
Abads concurring opinion is enlightening: Petitioners
are of course also right that COMELECs purchase
could not as a rule be made without the beneft of a
public bidding where other parties can make offers to
supply COMELEC with the equipment and systems
that it needs for the 2013 elections. But R.A. 9184,
The Comelec-Smartmatic buy-one-take-one deal

Programmer Clinton Curtis testifying on


Ohio computer poII xing YouTube
By Atty. John Carlo Gil M. Sadian
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the Government Procurement Act, allows certain
exceptions to such requirement. It provides
that the procuring government agency may,
in order to promote economy and effciency, resort
to any of the alternative methods of procurement,
including negotiated procurement, provided the
procuring agency ensures the most advantageous
price for the government.
Justice Peralta, in the Decision itself, believed that
dispensing with public bidding is proper considering
that the new lease contract with Smartmatic is
more advantageous to the Comelec, because the
7,191,484,739.48 rentals paid for the lease of goods
and purchase of services under the AES contract
was considered part of the purchase price. For the
Comelec to own the subject goods, it was required to
pay only 2,130,635,048.15. If the Comelec did not
exercise the option, the rentals already paid would
just be one of the government expenses for the past
election and would be of no use to future elections.
Justice Peralta added that Assuming that the
exercise of the option is nullifed, the Comelec
would again conduct another public bidding for
the AES for the 2013 elections with its available
budget of 7 billion. Considering that the said
amount is the available fund for the whole election
process, the amount for the purchase or lease
of new AES will defnitely be less than 7 billion.
Moreover, it is possible that Smartmatic-TIM would
again participate in the public bidding and could win
at a possibly higher price. The Comelec might end up
acquiring the same PCOS machines but now
at a higher price.
Regarding the last issue (infrmities and defects of
the PCOS), the Court gave weight to the Comelec
and Smartmatics agreement that the latter would
undertake fxes and enhancements to the hardware
and software to make sure that the subject goods
are in working condition to ensure a free, honest, and
credible elections. Lets hope they do.
which happen even in advanced countries
like the U.S. (see Mark Miller and Clinton
Curtis videos). In the 2010 polls, a self-
proclaimed whistleblower nicknamed
Koala Bear for his mask, alleged in
TV interviews a widespread conspiracy
using PCOS machines in a hidden
location (see whistleblower video).
That focused suspicion on 60 PCOS
machines found in Antipolo, which
Comelec then brought to the Senate
for investigation.

U.S. eIection fraud expose book author


Mark Crispin Miller YouTube
Making every vote count
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Equally pointed are the allegations of
Tanggulang Demokrasya, a civil society
group founded a year after the May 2010
elections. TanDem groups a diverse crop
of public-interest entities including the
Kapatiran Party. It believes there was
massive computerized fraud in 2010,
perpetrated by deliberately disabling digital
signatures
needed
to verify
transmitted
election
results. Once
that signature
requirement
was waived,
there was
no way for
canvassing
servers to
screen out any
bogus results
being sent in. Last July, TanDem called for a
probe of the alleged anomalies, to no avail.
In the weeks after the May 2010 polls, the
House of Representatives Committee on
Suffrage and Electoral Reforms, chaired
by then Congressman Teodoro Locsin Jr.,
investigated the claim of electronic fraud and
PCOS manipulation. Locsins Chairmans
Report stressed that despite AES problems,
there was no failure of elections.
But the House committee admonished:
Before the next automated election,
all the loopholes in the PCOS and the
automated election process should be
hrmIy pIugged by eILIer LIe currenL
provider or by another more assiduous
supplier. If not, a reversion to manual
elections with heightened vigilance by
organizations
like PPCRV
[Parish
Pastoral
Council for
Responsible
Voting] and
NAMFREL
[National
Movement
for Free
Elections]
would
probably
yield more
credible and accurate results.
In other words, Locsins report said without
proper PCOS integrity mechanisms and
procedures, manual voting with citizens
pollwatch would be better than automated
elections. What those safeguards and other
measures should be, including what voters
should do to guard the peoples sovereign
will, shall be the subject of a future report by
longtime Namfrel stalwart Zandro Rapadas.

Self-styled whistleblower, nicknamed Koala Bear by


media, claiming 2010 fraud YouTube
Making every vote count
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