Kontra Daya Letter to COMELEC re serious issues that undermine the electoral process #juanvote

Hon. Andres Bautista
Commission on Elections

Dear Chairman Bautista,

Warm greetings of peace!

Kontra Daya is an election watchdog that has closely monitored the conduct of the past two automated elections in 2010 and 2013. We have engaged the Comelec on various issues and have consistently called for transparency in the automated polls.

This year, we are confronted with many of the same unresolved problems under a foreign-controlled automated election system. As we have observed in the mock polls conducted last February 13, the new Vote Counting Machines (VCMs) still lack safeguards that would guarantee that votes cast would be accurately recorded and counted.

We would like to present to the Commission, serious issues of the AES, all of which we have previously raised in the 2010 and 2013 elections. With only two months to Election Day and just a month before the start of overseas voting, we are troubled that the following have not been addressed by COMELEC:

1. Vote verification is still missing. COMELEC refuses to activate the vote verification feature of the Vote Counting Machines. To verify that each voter’s choices are correctly recorded by a VCM, it should reflect the ballot’s votes on the machine screen and print out a confirmation receipt. COMELEC should heed the growing demand to activate the vote verification feature on both the machine screen and confirmation receipt.

2. VCMs inaccurately count the votes cast. This was manifested in the mock polls in Aklan where there were discrepancies between the VCM count and the manual count of the ballots, in almost all positions. (Annex A)

annex a

3. We have no way of determining if the correct program is installed in the VCMs. The VCMs printed hash code (included in the initialization report) cannot be compared with published hash of the source code, since only the hash of the archive or zipped source code, and various system config files are available online. Furthermore, since the rebuild of the new source code on February 05, 2016 the posted hashes were not updated on the public website, http://www.comelec.gov.ph/?r=Archives/RegularElections/2016NLE/AutomatedElectionSystem/EMSTrustedBuild.

4. Valid ballots were rejected or misread by the VCMs. Even after several attempts by the voter to insert the ballot, the VCM still rejected it. There is also inconsistency in the way the VCMs accepted and rejected the ballot. If unresolved, this will lead to the disenfranchisement of voters.

5. Transmission of results to canvassing and consolidation servers (specifically, the municipal, national, KBP and transparency canvassing servers) are still erratic. In fact, no actual transmission tests utilizing the local telcos were conducted during the mock polls. An actual end to end test, which should include transmission and the canvassing of votes, should have been conducted.

Without genuine source code review and the lack of verification of the VCMs hash code, we can expect more discrepancies in the vote count in each precinct. And without the source code review of the canvassing and consolidating servers, there is no guarantee in the accuracy and veracity of the counting of votes nationwide, and ultimately of the result of the national elections.

kontra daya at comelec

We are also concerned with reports that government resources are being used by some candidates for their electoral campaign. We are wary that vote buying, use of military, police and paramilitary forces to coerce voters would still be prevalent towards election day.

We ask that the COMELEC immediately address these serious issues that undermine the electoral process. If we are to believe the surveys, it appears that it would be a close fight for the two highest positions of the land. If the outstanding election issues are left unresolved, the people’s right to vote is not guaranteed, and the result of a supposed democratic exercise could be put into serious question.

We ask the COMELEC to act now.

Respectfully yours,

Sr. Mary John Mananzan, OSB (Kontra Daya Convenor),
Fr. Ramil Aguilar, IFI (Kontra Daya Convenor),
Prof. Giovanni Tapang, PhD (National Institute of Physics, UP Diliman),
Prof. Danilo Arao (UP College of Mass Communications),
Rick Bahague, Jr. (Computer Professionals Union),
Renato Reyes, Jr. (Bagong Alyansang Makabayan),
Mae Paner (Juana Change Movement), and
Noemi Lardizabal-Dado (for Blog Watch).

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