press one : Comelec urged to prepare to prevent technical glitches in 2022 Elections

News & Interviews
6 September 2021

By press one

Gaano na nga kahanda ang bansa para sa darating na Eleksyon? | Kontra Daya, Danilo Arao

Journalism educator and Kontra Daya convenor Danilo Arao urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to prepare for technical glitches in the upcoming 2022 national elections.

In a Podcast episode with PressOne.ph last Saturday, Arao said that the Vote Counting Machines (VCM) might face “technical glitches” like overheating, paper malfunction, and signal difficulties.

During the 2019 elections, 961 VCMs and 1000 SD cards malfunctioned. Transmission servers also malfunctioned for a while during the same, causing some sectors to question the integrity of the results. Arao said that this is of utmost concern because these may result in the physical switching of SD cards used in counting the votes.

“Tinatransport yan (SD Card) physically dahil walang signal, papunta sa munisipyo at minsan doon nag-kakaroon ng tendencia sa pandaraya kasi puwedeng magka-switching (ng SD Cards),” Arao explained.

Arao also suggested that Comelec should switch to an open-source code for code review to be genuine. Arao said the Comelec only flashes the source code on the screen, and programmers would only get to read and not test them. Converting to an open-source code would allow anyone to test the source code and ensure that the counting is free from fraud.

“Sana wag nang gawing proprietary yung software, open-source should be the key here to ensure that all of us can properly test yung code,” Arao said.

Arao also raised concern regarding the Random Manual Auditing (RMA) done after the elections. RMAs will allow the Comelec to choose precincts in the Philippines, count the votes there manually, and compare them against the automated count. Arao believes that RMA are too random and that election hotspots must be subjected to RMAs.

RMAs only confirm what the VCMs print. It does not point out if there was any fraud committed to counting votes by the VCM.

“Parang kinoconfirm lang kung tama ba yung bilang dun sa balota, may physical count na gagawin tapos e-kukompara mo doon sa nabilang mismo (ng VCM),” Arao explained.

Kontra Daya is an election watchdog composed of teachers, clergy members, information technology experts, and activists. It aims to expose all forms of fraud during the elections. It seeks the public’s help to guard election integrity and to report all misuse of government resources related to the coming elections. – Elan Karsten Castañares