Kontra Daya 2010 launched,

urges more tests to allay fears on automated polls

 

MManila

 

February 17, 2010

 

 

Vudeo clips

 

 

Convenors of KONTRA DAYA march to the COMELEC office in Intramuros Fr. Joe Dizon, convenor of KONTRA DAYA, 2010 election watchdog
   
   
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Visit Kontra Daya website:

http://kontradaya.org/

           
           

 

Kontra Daya 2010 launched, urges more tests to allay fears on automated polls
Posted on 17 February 2010

Advocates of credible and fraud-free elections today launched the Kontra Daya 2010 campaign alliance in Intramuros, Manila and urged poll officials to conduct more field tests and mock polls to allay persistent doubts about the automated election system (AES).

Despite repeated assurances from the Commission on Elections (Comelec), convenors of Kontra Daya still feel that the poll body has yet to fully convince the public, including even the presidentiables that its automation project will run flawlessly on May 10.

Kontra Daya is a campaign composed of religious, teachers, IT people, students, activists and concerned citizens.

Attempts to stay in power

“The Comelec dismisses our concerns as ‘fear of the unknown’ but our fears are based on what we already know this administration can do. We have seen it in 2004 and in 2007. The Arroyo government has every motive to rig the elections so it can stay in power. The single biggest fear now is the possibility of a failure of elections which will surely benefit the administration,” former Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop and Kontra Daya convenor Oscar Cruz said.

On Monday, Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said that “the fear of not knowing is what’s prevalent now” in reaction to apprehensions raised by six presidential candidates about massive fraud and possible failure of elections.

Archbishop Cruz said that Filipinos must be extra vigilant not only because it is the first ever nationwide automated polls but also due to the continuing attempts of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to stay in power.

Another mock polls

“We could not just rely on what the Comelec says. They have to show that their automation can ensure the integrity of the polls. But so far, their field tests and mock polls have only further stoked our fears. One way to erase these fears is to keep on testing the reliability of the machines, the voting procedures, the transmission system, counting of ballots, etc. until all possible glitches that may occur during the actual elections have been addressed. Another mock elections may be necessary, one that has a wider participation and greater coverage nationwide,” said Fr. Joe Dizon of Solidarity Philippines and one of Kontra Daya’s convenors.

Kontra Daya said that the field tests and mock elections repeatedly showed the rejection of ballots and the absence of any clear guidelines on what the Board of Election Inspectors will do in such an event. The group also called attention to the continuing problems with the transmission of results experienced even in urban areas.

Fr. Dizon added that far-flung areas of the country which are not accessed by electricity, cell phone signals, and road transport are ideal sites to test the dependability of Comelec’s precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines and the whole automation system.

“Automated Garci”

Another Kontra Daya convenor, Grace Poe, daughter of the late actor and 2004 opposition presidential bet Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ), added that the country should be watchful of a possible “automated Garci”.

“Let us not allow a repeat of what happened to FPJ. Yes, they are automating the elections. But the people behind the massive fraud that robbed the country of its vote six years ago are still there. These are the same people who will oversee the computerized voting and canvassing. We could not just sit back and let electronic cheating simply replace manual cheating,” Poe said.

President Arroyo has been accused of calling up Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano or “Garci” to influence the results of her 2004 presidential battle against FPJ.

Other maneuverings

Writer and actress Bibeth Orteza, spokesperson of the Pagbabago! People’s Movement for Change, pointed out that aside from cheating, the people must also keep watch on other maneuverings by the Arroyo administration to hijack the 2010 elections.

“The signals that President Arroyo will do everything to prolong her stay in power or at least remain an influential politician after the elections are very clear. From unseating opposition governors, fielding pseudo-partylist groups and most loyal Cabinet officials and allies to run for Congress, appointing the chiefs of the Supreme Court and military, etc., it’s obvious that she is not leaving her political fate to chance,” Orteza, also a Kontra Daya convenor, said.

Uncertainties in the AES

Meanwhile, with less than 12 weeks to go before the May 10 polls, outstanding issues related to the Comelec’s AES have yet to be addressed. “There is a whole range of issue as to the safeguards of the automated polls which can prevent systematic election fraud either through internal rigging or external hacking. There are outstanding issues such as the source code review of the software that will be used, the infrastructure for the safe transmission of data as well as the readiness of Comelec personnel and the voting public for automated polls,” UP professor Dr. Giovanni Tapang said.

Dr. Tapang, chairperson of the scientists’ group AGHAM and also a Kontra Daya convenor, noted as well that in case manual polls were done in some regions, the country must prepare for the same old-school fraud operations that will undermine the elections.

Kontra Daya’s role

“With the long history of fraud and manipulation involving the Comelec and other government agencies to favor the incumbent regime, the concerns about the automated elections are serious and require action. We have to be ready to mobilize in huge numbers, should there be a failure of elections. We cannot let Mrs. Arroyo take advantage of that situation to perpetuate herself in power,” Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Secretary General Renato Reyes, Jr. said.

Kontra Daya as an independent election watchdog will field teams of volunteers nationwide and will encourage the widest possible public participation in monitoring the conduct of the automated polls.

An online monitoring center has been set up through www.kontradaya.org where people can view results of the mock elections and other concerns. The public can also send reports through kontradaya@gmail.com . ###

 

Go to Kontra Daya website:   http://kontradaya.org/

 

Bishop Oscar Cruz, convenor
     
     
     
           
     
Bibeth Orteza, Mary Grace Poe - convenors, KONTRA DAYA Alfredo Pascual of AES Watch  
           


Letter to the Comelec raising urgent concerns
Posted on 17 February 2010
 

HON. JOSE MELO
Chairman
Commission on Elections
 

Warm greetings of Peace,

We from the Kontra Daya campaign are writing you to express our urgent and serious concern over developments in the automated elections system. We would like to inform you of some of our observations as well as recommendations relevant to the problems mentioned.

We hope the Comelec can look into these issues as there are continuing fears of fraud and failure of elections.

Observations:

1. In the January 27 Joint Congressional Oversight Committee hearing, the Comelec said that it could complete the testing of the machines in 45 days if there are 300 people working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Comelec also admitted that it has yet to hire all the technicians who will carry out the test. We would like to get an update on this matter which we believe is crucial for the machines to function effectively on election day.

2. In the field tests and mock elections, the common problems have been that ballots were rejected (for various reasons) and that there are difficulties in transmission of results in some areas.

We noted that in the January 29 field test, four seemingly valid test ballots were rejected by the machine. We would like to know the technical report on this case if there has been any. In the same field test, we also noted that three SIM cards were used at the Aguho Elementary School yet transmission still failed. This happened in a school in Metro Manila, where cellphone signal is supposedly stable. We would like to know the preparedness of the Comelec and Smartmatic-TIM in situations where there would be transmission failures via GPRS in urban areas. We know that not all precincts will have a back-up BGAN device should transmission via GPRS fails. We would like to know if the survey of signal strength has indeed been completed. We also would want to know when the Comelec will announce which areas will be subjected to manual elections because of problems with connectivity.

In the February 6 mock elections we noted that there were instances were ballots were rejected. We were informed that for one ballot that was rejected at the New Era elementary school, the reason given was that there were ambiguous marks. However, the Comelec and Smartmatic officials refused to let us examine the four other ballots that were rejected by the machine. This of course runs counter to the principle of transparency.

Furthermore, there are still no clear guidelines on what happens to voters if their ballots are rejected by the machine. Will they be given a chance to correct the ambiguous marks? Or will they lose the chance to vote? Also, how many rejected ballots will have to be recorded before the machine is replaced? Are ambiguous marks the only consideration for voters to be allowed to re-fill their ballots?

3. Our experience in Quezon City and Taguig during the mock elections shows that there may not be enough time for the 1,000 registered voters per precinct to vote.

The average time it took the mock voters in New Era Elementary School to vote was 5-6 minutes. That’s inclusive of the fact that they weren’t looking for their names in the voters list (they went straight to the polling center) and they weren’t looking for the names of real candidates in the mock ballot. If 50 voters need 110 minutes to vote, that would mean 36 hours for 1,000 people to vote.

Even at the rate of 1 hour for 50 voters, that would still require 20 hours for 1,000 people to vote. If we have a 75% voter turnout, that would still require some 15 hours for 750 people to vote.

4. Another round of mock elections is recommended, this time with the necessary guidelines on rejected ballots in place. The next mock elections should simulate actual election day conditions, including having people go through the process of checking their names in the voters list of the precinct. We would want to see mock elections that will employ a broad cross-section of society who have different levels of understanding of the automation process (some mock polls relied mainly on teachers as participants). There must be more participants in the exercises and there must be more regions and polling places covered by the mock polls. The Comelec should be able to continuously hold these mock elections so that more and more people can be educated on the process and for watchdog groups to be able to test the vulnerabilities of the system.

Comelec must also bare its contingency plans for manual elections which are likely to take place in as much as 30% of the precincts. It must set a date when it will announce which areas are going manual. This should be done sooner than later.

We hope the Commission can take note of these observations and recommendations. The biggest fear of people right now, candidates included, is that the automated election system is vulnerable to rigging or that there may be failure of elections if all does not go well.

The Comelec must adopt a self-critical outlook so that the problems and vulnerabilities can be addressed.

We hope you can give these points your utmost consideration.

For the Convenors,

ABP. OSCAR CRUZ
BP. ELMER BOLOCON
FR. JOSE DIZON
BIBETH ORTEZA
GRACE POE-LLAMANZARES
PROF. GIOVANNI TAPANG
RENATO REYES, JR.
HENRI KHAN
BETINA LEGARDA
ATTY. HARRY ROQUE
FERDINAND GAITE
 

     
     
     
     
           
     
     
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Observations on the mock polls held in Davao City
Posted on 08 February 2010
By Kontra Daya monitoring teams

On February 6, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) conducted mock polls in two areas in Davao City – one at the Generoso Elementary School in Barangay Bago Aplaya and another at the Alejandra Navarro Elementary School in Barangay Lasang. Kontra Daya fielded volunteers in both polling centers to monitor the conduct of the mock polls.

Preparation/set-up

At around 7:30 AM, election officials assembled and opened the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machine to be used in the mock polls. Poll watchers were not allowed to enter the voting area except for representatives of the dominant majority and dominant minority political parties. Voting started at around 8:00 AM.

Actual voting

The first voter was not included in the voters’ list but was given a priority number so he can still vote after those in the list have finished. The Comelec gave the second voter four chances to feed his ballot to the PCOS machine but was still rejected. In the end, his ballot was declared invalid. Other voters had to feed their ballot twice to the PCOS machine. One factor was that the voters were not yet familiar with the machine and Comelec officials had to assist them. We noted that this should not have been allowed because only officials of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) could assist the voter during actual elections.

All in all, there were five invalid ballots – four in Alejandra and one in Generoso. A possible explanation could be the way the PCOS machine was placed on top of the ballot box. In some instances, the voter had to shake the ballot for it to drop inside the ballot box, which a Comelec technician would just adjust later on.

Comelec officials simply folded and placed the invalid ballots on a nearby chair. These ballots were not properly marked as “invalid”. They also did not bother to explain to those observing the mock polls why the PCOS machine rejected the ballots. Improper shading was the reason given by the Comelec officials. Poll watchers, however, could not confirm this because the rejected ballots were not shown to them.

In Generoso, there was one incident that the ballot got jammed inside the PCOS machine.

We also observed that the “secrecy folder” was practically useless because the ballots were even bigger than the folder.

On the average, each voter spent 5-9 minutes to finish the whole process from the registration to the marking of indelible ink. Meanwhile, it took the PCOS machine 15-20 seconds to read each valid ballot.

BEI representatives practically played no role in the mock polls. Comelec officials took over the operation of the PCOS machine, etc. A copy of the audit log as well as the election return (ER) was not given to the poll watchers. There was no system to monitor the actual transmission of votes nor to verify that that the votes have been actually received by the servers.

Voting closed at around 10:57 AM in Alejandra and around 11:20 AM in Generoso.

Transmission of election results

Using the Smart Telecommunications network, transmission of the election results to the Board of Canvassers (BOC) took a total of 30 minutes, including to the KBP server, which mainly caused the delay in the transmission process. In Generoso, it took 12 minutes for the votes to be transmitted to the KBP server.

Smartmatic and a representative of the Comelec Technical Group set up the Comelec Central Server (CCS) at around 7:15 AM. From the PCOS machine, it took five minutes before the results were transmitted to the CCS.

The Chair of the BOC did not know the process of verifying the results. Instead of including the password of other BOC members, he used only his password. The CCS used only a laptop and the BOC and Comelec turned down requests to use an LCD projector.

The BOC did not announce that it is already starting to transmit the results. As such, poll watchers failed to witness the actual transmission. The BEI tried to create a back-up copy of the data but failed.

General observations

1. Local police and military officials and personnel were noticeably present inside the polling centers (instead of the mandated 100 meters away) throughout the exercise of the mock polls. Units such as Davao Police, Davao Del Norte Provincial Mobile Group, Regional Mobile Group, Special Forces, Scout Rangers, and Task Force Davao were all represented. Most of the police and military elements were armed. By our reckoning, there were more policemen and soldiers than voters.

2. The mock polls in Davao City merely ensured that the PCOS machines were working. Because there were only two polling centers, the Comelec was able to mobilize many of its staff to ensure this. The mock polls were conducted under a heavily controlled environment. The lack of education campaign by the Comelec on how the automated polls work was reflected in the improper shading of the ballots.

3. The Comelec officials, especially the BOC, were not approachable. We sensed that we were even more prepared and knowledgeable on technical matters about PCOS than them. The Comelec technicians were arrogant and instead of ensuring that the votes were properly counted, they simply ensured that the PCOS machine would function.

4. According to their own protocol, the Comelec must still conduct manual counting of ballots. But this procedure was not followed by the election officials in both polling a
 

     
     
     
     
           
     
    Bishop Elmer Bolocan and Dr. Carol Araullo of BAYAN
     

 

Anomalies, glitches mar mock polls
Posted on 06 February 2010

(As of 10:53AM) Glitches and anomalies marred the mock polls held today by the Comelec in various parts of the country, Kontra Daya volunteers reported.

In Baguio City, transmission of the votes to the KBP server failed three times. Similar problems were reported at the New Era Elem. School in Quezon City.

In Cebu City, the Mabini Elem. School as of this posting has yet to transmit the votes almost an hour since the polling center closed.

In Taguig City’s Maharlika Elem. School, two valid ballots got “jammed” in the PCOS machine. When technicians tried to again feed the ballots, the PCOS machine failed to read them. The PCOS machine was already twice opened by technicians in an attempt to fix the glitch.

Also in the same school, a voter who has already cast her ballot was marked with an indelible ink and was able to vote again.

Earlier, at the New Era Elem. School, Kontra Daya monitored that teachers of the said school were told by the Comelec to participate in the mock polls even if they are registered in other precints.

Kontra Daya questioned the Comelec’s move considering that the objective of the mock polls is to simulate the May 10 automated elections.

At the Maharlika Elem. School in Taguig City, Comelec officials posted a voters’ list outside of the polling center that was different from the the list election officals have inside creating confusion among the participants in the mock elections.

Meanwhile, at the Youth Community Center in Baguio City, a BEI member has twice entered a wrong password when trying to access the PCOS machine.

In Davao City, the PCOS machine malfunctioned but was immediately repaired.

At the Alejandro Navarro Elementary School in Davao City, elements of the AFP and PNP stayed inside the polling centers during the mock polls. Comelec officials told Kontra Daya volunteers that they invited the soldiers and police as “observers”.

PNP presence was also reported in Taguig City’s R. Papa Elem School during the conduct of the mock polls.
 

     

Fr. Joe Dizon, Mo. Mary Jane Mananzan and other convenors were initially refused entry to present their letter of concern to COMELEC officials

     
     
     
     

Video clips

           
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
           
           
     
       
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