Bishop doubts accuracy of poll machines-A A +A
Sunday, September 23, 2012
A CATHOLIC bishop expressed doubts to the capability of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to conduct accurate automated polls in May 2013.
Bishop Broderick Pabillo, chairman of the National Secretariat for Social Action (Nassa) of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said on Saturday he believes that Comelec, using the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines of Smartmatic International, cannot be able to stop possible election cheating schemes due to the system's lack of accuracy.
"The accuracy of votes is definitely not possible due to defects of the Smartmatic technology, which can lead to an electronic dagdag-bawas (vote padding and shaving) scheme," said Pabillo.
He said proof of this is the fact that the Smartmatic PCOS, during a mock election at the House of Representatives last July, had failed to meet the 99.995 percent requirement in the original Terms of Reference (TOR) of the commission.
The machines only registered 99.787 percent accuracy rate, Pabillo said.
What is worse, he added, is that the auditing done by different information technology groups showed that the actual accuracy rate is only 97.215 percent or 557 errors in 20,000 vote-marks.
"The difference would surely affect contested positions with small margins, especially in local positions," he said.
To recall, the Comelec had decided to purchase the PCOS machines from Smartmatic for them to be re-used in the 2013 midterm polls.
The Manila auxiliary prelate said there is a need to raise these issues once more in order to avoid a repeat of the mistakes in 2010.
He said it is important that the automated elections not only bring quick results but also accurate vote counting.
"We had been awed by the automated election in 2010. We were amazed by the speed of the PCOS in counting votes and providing speedy results that we forgot the long queue and other election irregularities. The majority of us declared the 2010 automated elections successful. But how many of us dared to look at the accuracy of the machine in counting the votes? How vigilant and diligent were we in noting the glitches and irregularities of PCOS in the 2010 automated elections?" Pabillo said.
For his part, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes sought to defend the mock elections conducted via the PCOS machines, saying it still met the requirements provided by the poll body.
He admitted this despite the "low" accuracy results of the manual audit done by the IT groups of the mock polls results.
"Random manual audit already has human intervention. That is not what was guaranteed by Smartmatic. Naturally, Smartmatic vouched for the accuracy of the machines, that they will not misread the votes," Brillantes said.
He cited as a possible reason the difference between human and machine reading of the 50 percent threshold requirement in shading the ovals in the ballots.
"Once an oval is shaded, the machine requires the 50 percent threshold; otherwise it will not be counted. But if done by a human, it cannot be determined anymore if it is 50 percent or not. That is where the variance comes in," said Brillantes.
Still, Pabillo called on President Benigno Aquino III and Congress to re-assess the qualification of the PCOS machines to be used in the 2013 polls.
The CBCP official also urged political parties and candidates as well as the general public to demand from the Comelec a more accurate automation technology for the May 2013 polls.
"Good governance starts with election of candidates. We want counting of votes accurate and reliable and not just fast, to protect the sacred right and will of the electorate," said Pabillo. (HDT/Sunnex)