Automated Election Forum in UP NCPAG

This is my first time to live-blog, so bear with me.

Inna, Comelec, Smartmatic, Rene Sarmiento, Lily Domingo

Dir. Erwin Alampay is giving the welcoming remarks and the introduction. “Hopefully if we learn how it’s done, who are the people behind it, hopefully, we overcome the issues that hound it.” He stresses the importance of the attendance of the youth in the coming elctions.

Rene Sarmiento

Commissioner Rene V. Sarmiento takes the stage to discuss Automating Elections: Process and Challenges

“Poll Automation law by Locsin and Gordon, and the Supreme Court Decision on “Roque vs. Comelec, made the Automation dream is now a reality.”

  1. Change after 100 years
  2. Change Rizal will celebrate – Pilosopo Tasio, In Chapter 14, suggesting to the Senyor Capitan to purchase lightning rods. (A proposal of change). Commissioner says that if Rizal was alive today he’s sure he’ll like the idea.
  3. Innovation Galore on Processes (a. Registration – biometrics, b. Voting – names not anymore handwritten)
  4. Generation of 8 Election Returns
  5. Transmission done electronically in 2 minutes. Results that will have billions of encryption. it will take 50 years to hack election results.
  6. Within 2 hours, proclamation of winning municipal, city candidates.
  7. Results will be up in Comelec Central Back-up Sever, Secured Public Website, Server for Dominant Majority/Minority Parties, Citizen Arm, KBP
  8. Overvote will be void, undervote, will be read and a valid vote. Overvotes will not be sold, and will not be counted.
  9. Whole/ total shading of the ballot will only be recognized. Half-shade, or 1/4 share cannot be counted.
  10. Ballots be prepared by January. Deadline of filing is Nov 30. February 7 start of national camapign. March 26 start of local campaign.
  11. Election protest: They will use the paper ballots, digital copies of paper ballots.

Challenges:

  1. Mechanical breakdown of PCOS Machines – 80, 136 will be used out of 82, 000+. The remainder will be used as back-up machine. But it is nearly impossible that all will suffer a breakdown. When they say that there will have a failure of elections, that’s brainwashing their minds.
  2. Power failure – built-in storage batteries that will be included in the back-up plan, which will be given to the parties. Nananakot lang si Secretary Reyes.
  3. Commercial voting
  4. Violence, Intimidation, Threats Shipping of ballots/election paraphernalia – Public administration students will have a big role in voters information campaign, candidates information. Citizenship – government and people working together. We will address this problem in the contingency plan.

National Attitude – “They say that Filipinos can’t do it. It’s an attitude of pull and push. Give us chance to prove to you that we can,” said Commissioner Sarmiento. We should have an attitude of hope, of optimism, that should be our national attitude. Work plus prayer. “We will work and we will work, but together with work is prayer,” says Sarmiento

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Former Ambassador to the Holy See, Amb. Henrietta T. de Villa now takes the stage.

“You are the captive market of the Automation of the Election. You are the new Filipino voter. We just came from KBP NCR. We try to expose it to the greatest number of people, especially to the Media. Sometimes they report irregularities that make people afraid and doubtful. Scan your minds from corrupted files from the automation, so that it will transmit new ideas, of the truths of automation. Keep on configuring your hearts, with blogs of the attitude of hope. Fill the internet with that, so that you attract others to also be attracted in 2010 Elections. Infuse your surrounding with dynamism of exciting new system we are using.”

Clean, honest, accurate, meaningful, peaceful elections. CHAMP!

PPCRV’s thrusts:

  1. Voter education – formation of Filipino as a free person, not just be doing what you want but by being able to do your responsibility of overcoming evil with good, contribute to common good of the nation, responsible voter. Formation of a Filipino with a conscience, and choose what is right from wrong. Formation of a Filipino who is disciplined to make a decision based on values
  2. Community participation – volunteers in the election process. Kung meron kayong tinataya, mas madali n’yong ankinin. We must take part of the elections. Engage citizens with solidarity, as one nation. Hindi nagsisiraan through privilege speeches.
  3. Responsible voting – quality of elections determines quality of government.

We are in a journey to a new and different future. We become a seamless garment, walang butas o punit na may magandang ugnayan ng mga sektor.

Cultural environment we should watch out:

  1. Golds, Guns, Goons – rampant vote buying and vote selling, political dynasties, loose firearms and private armies
  2. Patronage, Personality, Popularity – corrupted concept of power, inordinate image packaging, hang-up on celebrities
  3. Distrust and 3 mindsets: crab mentality, divisive mentality, grab mentality

Bases for implementation:

  • RA 9369
  • RA 9525
  • GR No. 188456

Hurdles we have to face:

  1. Fear factor – of course this is a new system, we are afraid, but if we are too much scared, we tend to not vote at all.
  2. Comelec factor – “If 2004, credibility of government is 6-feet under the ground. But now, Comm. Sarmiento is the quintessential extract of goodness, nahahawa ang iba. Their credibility is above sea-level already,” says de Villa.
  3. Logistics factor – voters, precincts, barangays, cities & municipalities provinces.

“Sunugin lahat ng cheating. Sunigit lahat ng election cheats, Sunigin lahat ng vote buying.” So that we may be able to hope once more, in one, as advocates of transformed and transforming leadership, as movers of a new and different future, as witnesses to CHAMP. Ako ang simula ng pagbabago. Boto ko, bayan ko,” says Amb. de Villa.

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Dr. Rowena A. Cacanindin, Assistant Schools Division Superintendent of the Department of Education, National Capital Region is now talking.

If they call you the power-generators, I call you the future. All of you passed by a teacher. If we talk of DepEd, we talk of Elementary and High school. In our care, are people who do not vote yet. I would like to talk of the role of the teacher during elections. You’ve heard that teachers were cheaters? Would you believe that your teachers cheat?  How can the teachers cheat when Media, PPCRV, citizens are there. Teachers are not Cheaters.

“Remember the Hello Garci, is Garci a teacher? We are paid 2,000 pesos for 2-4 days of service. Who gets the highest salary? Basta alam ko hindi DepEd yun. Sino ang pumipila to get the ballot boxes, election materials? Sino naglilinis ng kwarto? — The teachers. By election, hindi pa naibibigay ang 2,000, inuutang pa nila yun. At pag may dayaan, si teacher pa rin ang may kasalanan. Lowly paid and yet. That are the unsung heroes.”

“I am here sacrificing my life for 150 votes, and what are they doing, changing the votes by millions. THE SHAME!” I hope we are not hoping against hope. The teacher is always the sacrificial lamb in any scenario such as this. What are the preparations being done at the DepEd level? NONE. We are waiting for COMELEC to train us.

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Miguel Avila of Smartmatic-TIM will now demonstrate the system.

“We are using automated elections because COMELEC sees the hurdles in manual elections, and they are doing something about it,” Avila explains. “We are still in the customization phase with COMELEC to determine final design of ballot and the ballotbox,” adds Avila.

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Secuirty Features:

  • Bar code, unique identifier of each ballot.
  • UVI – Ultra-violet ink that the system looks for for it to be counted.
  • Marking pen to be used to shade the ballot.

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Election Process: (COMELEC must release general instructions soon*)

  1. Board of Election Inspector (BEI) punches in the security key
  2. Initialization report, zero-ballot, which shows that there has been no ballots cast before start of elections.
  3. BEI valides voter in voters list, if no one objects, ballot given to the voter.
  4. Remember not to over vote because the system will reject or invalidate that contest (position) but will still validate other positions. An over vote doesn’t invalidate the whole ballot. (i.e., if you vote 13 for senator position, the whole senatorial contest of your ballot is invalidated; if you vote 6 for the senator position, your senatorial contest of your ballot will be accepted.)
  5. *Recommended to bring a crib or note of whom you will vote.
  6. Marking threshold – that’s why it’s needed to fill out the whole circle COMPLETELY.
  7. *As per COMELEC instructions to BEI after they customized the system.

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To close the polls, the BEI must punch in the security key once more, and it will ask if he/she wants to close the elections. They must key in 2 passwords to close and print results. The machine will print 8 copies for the parties, then transmit results, then print 22 more. The results will also be transmitted to a secure public website, where anyone can count and tally the results. “We made it a way that it is transparent and auditable,” Avila states.

The electronic results will be the official results, as per the law.

Q&A by the Audience to SMARTMATIC-TIM:

Q: Paano mo malalaman na tama ang nareflect ng machine na votes mo. In this particular case, you are feeding the ballot in a “black-box.” What I thought was when you put in your ballot, the machine will reflect your votes in the screen, for you to choose the green or red button, for the voter to accept or reject it. Voter-verifiable paper trail, as stated by law.

A: Second-chance voting, the technology can do that. What was decided by COMELEC decided this method instead. We’re not giving receipts to the voters because it will be basis of facilitating vote buying.

Q: Papano yung mga taong gustong bumoto na hindi makabasa’t makapagsulat, lalo na ang mga bababa sa bundok? Ano ang gagawin ninyo para tugunan ang problemang ito?

A: How will the illiterate and disabled voters vote? It will still be covered by the old sytem, assistance, swear-in process, help the voter.

Q: Will still be an indelible ink to prove the voter voter?

A: Yes. After voting.

Hindi magkakaroon ng failure of elections because of system failure of the machines.

One good question that a student posted addressed to the COMELEC is that “paano magiging layout ng mga precincts?” Unfortunately, Commissioner Sarmiento already left. “You don’t need to look for a bigger classroom for the clustered precint, but you limit the flow of voters going in,” says Avila. For me, the issue here is that we should make elections easier for the people, to make them interested. As I see it, if the lines queue up to a kilometer or so, because of the limiting of flow, and the novelty of the system, it’s just against that.

DJB: How accurately did the total system count the ballots. Comelec required 99.99% accuracy rating of the machines. If they start testing now, there’s no time to test every single machine. I’m making this prediction that the outstanding question will be that. What is SMARTMATIC’s recommendation to COMELEC that the accuracy of the machines is 99.99%? How do we get to a point that people feel that the system is accurate?

Smartmatic: Actually, terribly honest with you sir, I am not in a position to answer that. I will relay that question to my superiors. We espouse recounts. How COMELEC will do that, it’s up to them.

And that was my live-blog here at NCPAG Assembly Hall on the Poll Automation Forum, “Handa na ba sa Automation?”. You be the judge. Thanks for reading! 😉

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