Comelec and Smartmatic are to blame for the vote counting machine (VCM) malfunctions that continues to be reported in many areas around the country. These failures were in the form of non-functioning VCMs, rejected ballots, paper jams, overheating and machine shutdowns. The VCM failures were reported amidst of other incidents such as widespread vote buying, harassment and disenfranchisement.
The poll body and the foreign private contractor have repeatedly ignored and brushed away concerns about the vulnerability and lack of end-to-end testing and certification of the VCM. VCM failures open the possibility of midday hijacking of votes as procedures for testing and sealing might not be followed dutifully. Disenfranchisement can also ensue if the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) fail to re-read the ballots that was previously counted prior to the VCM failure.
In some cases when machines malfunction, BEI’s have asked voters to leave their filled ballots and have these fed in to the VCM’s once a replacement machine is available. This opens up the voting process to all sorts of tampering and possibly fraud. This also defeats the purpose of printing receipts so that the voters could verify their votes.
If one is to use the malfunction rate of around 10% VCM failures based on the data of the Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) polls, these VCM failures can affect as much as four million voters out of the 54.4 million voters assuming a 75% turnout rate (10% x 75% x 54.5 million = 4.08 million).
We are asking the public to be vigilant as the polling exercise ends later this afternoon and to monitor the transmission of the votes from the VCM to the canvassing servers. With the Comelec “hack” of allowing the physical delivery of the memory card from the precinct to the canvassing machine in order to be consolidated and canvassed, modern-day ballot box snatching can happen. Instead of ballot boxes, it would be the SD cards that will be stolen and replaced to affect the results. Note that in the 2013 elections, only 76% of the polling precincts were able to transmit their results.
Comelec took everything that Smartmatic said and ordered without question. By bending backwards to a foreign entity to handle our election system and failing to learn from the errors in previous poll automation exercises, Comelec in collusion with Smartmatic not only worsens the vulnerability of the automated elections and opened the backdoors to fraud that perpetuates the culture of violence, cheating and traditional politics that is still rampant in our country.
We hold Comelec and Smartmatic accountable for the problems that millions of voters have experienced today.