Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Need to Manually Verify the 2010 Automated Elections

On Election Day 2010 we will want to know the answers to the following questions:
1. Did the PRECINCT COUNT OPTICAL SCAN machines count each ballot correctly and prepare accurate Election Returns for each precinct with the 99.995% accuracy required by the Automation Law and the Comelec-Smartmatic contract?

2. Did the PCOS Machines accurately transmit each Election Return to the seven destination canvassing servers?
In order to dispel any doubts in the mind of the public about the overall INTEGRITY of the Automated Election System, I believe it is critical for Comelec to accomplish a 100 percent Quality Assurance Test of all the PCOS machines actually used in the 2010 elections.

This it can do LIVE, On-the-Spot on Election Day 2010, using the Board of Election Inspectors to perform perhaps ONE LAST MANUAL COUNT that will also establish and verify the FIRST AUTOMATED COUNT.

Each Board of Election Inspectors at the Voting Precincts could and should perform a MANUAL VERIFICATION AUDIT of the Election Return produced by their Smartmatic PCOS machine -- by counting the machine's accepted valid ballots and comparing the results with the automatically tallied Election Return. Each BEI can and should also compare their manually determined and PCOS Election Return with the Transmitted ER for their precinct as found in Public Domain Servers that receive ERs from the PCOS machines.

There will be no better opportunity to capture this data on the performance accuracy of the PCOS machine after Election Day itself because only on that day do we have the BEI manpower in the form of those poor public school teachers indentured to Comelec for Election Day duties. They can now play an important and historic role in launching the new election system we are trying out in 2010.

I think it is CRITICAL to the long term CREDIBILITY, TRUSTWORTHINESS and ACCEPTABILITY of the automated election system to the general public that such a manual audit be done at least this first time around in 2010 if not in several election cycles yet to come in 2013, 2016 and beyond.


The Commission on Elections should really be gearing up to conduct such a manual audit and capture this historic data--if only to establish a benchmark of performance for automated elections systems not only for the Philippines but for the world's growing number of functional democracies. It is the only way to prove if the system contracted for, did or did not, meet the 99.995 percent accuracy rating required of it in the law authorizing the Comelec to conduct such an automated election.

This would represent a TRANSPARENT PUBLIC TEST of the automation system as a whole, as implemented on Election Day 2010 -- its hardware, software, firmware and actual system performance. Not some subset or demonstrator system but the whole thing LIVE. Moreover, the poll watchers of various political parties and candidates, as well as citizen and mass media watch dogs can observe the manual audit process and "exercise vigilance" as they say.

The current plan of Comelec is, I believe, a partial random sampling audit involving just a small subset of the PCOS machines, since the Comelec without the BEIs is severely limited in manpower to undertake any serious manual count and comparison with digitally stored data. This PARTIAL AUDIT PLAN of Comelec is woefully inadequate for the purpose of establishing the 99.995% accuracy rating of the AES, and its overall integrity and reliability and would only leave the agency's automated system under a cloud of some doubt and vulnerable to all sorts of criticisms.

A transparent one hundred percent manual audit of the automated election results in May 2010 is the UNAVOIDABLE FIRST STEP towards establishing the automated election system itself.


john marzan said...

you don't think the manual recount can be "dagdag bawas-ed" or reverse engineered to fit the auto count?

john marzan said...

it's actually easier to fake the backup paper ballot since shade shade lang siya at hindi mo mababasa ang handwriting.

john marzan said...

did you write this djb?

of course the automated system only works if you have credible election officials. undeniable fact.

if the admin wants to throw the elections to villar, who you rightly claim is arroyo's bet, then we're screwed.

botomoto said...

this is an interesting suggestion. anything to help secure the system's integrity should be welcomed.

Jesusa Bernardo said...

I'm thinking more that Filipinos, especially those with the political power, need to have the moral and political will to respect the real electoral choice of the majority.

In 2004, the country actually had some opportunity to determine the real choice of the people; however, the bias against those who espouse non-bourgeois or non-elite interests and "dating," perhaps, was simply so great that it overwhelmed whatever respect the powerful had for the democratic electoral process .

Those who took part or allowed the 2004 cheating and the railroading of the congressional canvassing don't even have an iota of guilty or shame for what they did (which includes many of those gunning for national positions in 2010).

Your suggestion, DJB, is still highly dependent on what those with the power to influence the electoral results will actually do come election period.