Category: presentations

MGG supports competitive public bidding for 2013 AES; Calls for disqualification of Smartmatic-TIM


MGG supports competitive public bidding for 2013 AES; Calls for disqualification of Smartmatic-TIM

The Movement for Good Governance (MGG), a coalition of reform advocates, joined the urgent call of various citizen groups for a more secure Automated Election System (AES) for the 2013 polls.

MGG, through its Chair, Solita “Winnie” Monsod, expressed the view that Smartmatic-TIM’s track record made entering into another contract with the technology provider simply unacceptable.

“The major technical and procedural lapses during the 2010 automated elections raise serious questions on the credibility of Smartmatic to secure its system against unauthorized network intrusions and unwitting loss of information,” said Monsod.

“A repeat performance by Smartmatic would once again throw into question the integrity of election results. As responsible citizens of this country we cannot allow the voting results to be compromised.”

MGG’s position is based on discussions with its affiliated organizations that were actively involved in monitoring the 2010 automated elections, namely: the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE), TransparentElections.Org.Ph, AES Watch, the National Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL), Tanggulang Demokrasya (TanDem), the Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG), and Alyansa Agrikultura.

MGG fully supports the recommendation of the Comelec Advisory Committee (CAC) to have a competitive public bidding for the 2013 AES.

The Movement also backs the recommendations of the CAC calling for the adoption of following technical features in the 2013 AES which were not provided by Smartmatic in 2010 AES:

  1. Use of standard and verifiable digital signatures for the machines and personnel and provision for accurate, reliable and universal time stamps;
  2. Appropriately secured machine access facilities and forensics of the hardware;
  3. Availability of on-screen voter verification of his/her vote;
  4. Scanner should store the raw scanned date and provide ballot authentication feature, with printouts showing serial numbers, time stamps and unique machine identifiable features;
  5. Source code and circuit schematics should be open for review, including audit logs.

“We should learn from the lessons of the past lest the vulnerabilities in the AES be used by some unscrupulous operators to manipulate the results of future elections,” said Ma. Corazon Akol of TransparentElections.Org.Ph, who is also the President of the Philippine National IT Standards Foundation (PhilNITS).

“We sincerely hope the Brillantes Commision does not repeat the errors of the Melo Commision,” added Ernest Ordoñez, Chair of Alyansa Agrikultura.

MGG and its affiliates believe that the Comelec should continue to explore a total solution meeting the basic technical requirements of accuracy, reliability, auditability and transparency decreed by the poll automation law.

Available for download:

In the news:

Comelec’s response:


Presentation: Parallel Manual Count by Gus Lagman [updated]

Attached are two versions of my presentation: the first was delivered last Friday before top news editors of TV and print media; the second was presented this morning during a press conference at the Club Filipino (which was broadcast “live” on ANC).

One difference that might make you wonder is that in the first, I stated that the manual count for all positions would take 2 days. In the second, it’s 4 days. In the first, I was referring only to the precinct activities; in the second, I included the additional two days at the canvassing levels.

It’s only 14-1/2 days before election day and the closer we get to that day, the more difficult it would be to implement our proposed solution to automated cheating. We desperately need the help of media in putting pressure on the Comelec to adopt this parallel manual count (or “100% manual audit”, or “manual verification of results”, take your pick, they’re all the same).

We might get an audience with the Comelec en banc tomorrow morning. Let’s all pray that they agree to our proposal. If they don’t… may God help us.

Thank you and warmest regards,

Gus Lagman

PS: Sonny Marcelo, former Ombudsman, commented this morning, “Usually, people are happy when they are being proven right. But I can see that Gus is unhappy (and truly worried, if I may add) for being now proven right!”

Presentation: Parallel Manual Count by Gus Lagman

Why are we deeply concerned about the high probability of an automated “Garci”?

  1. Comelec chose a technology that counts votes in secret, when the election mantra today all over the world is “secret voting, public counting.”
  2. Comelec did not allow “source code” review.
  3. PCOS print-out/display of voters’ choices disabled.
  4. Smartmatic to generate both public and private keys; recently, Comelec said the keys will already be pre-fed into PCOS.
  5. Comelec will proclaim winners before audit is done.
  6. No General Instructions (GI) for random manual audit, continuity plan, protest process.
  7. UV ink check disabled.
  8. Smartmatic managing the whole process?
  9. Digital data to be transmitted to Dominant Party, Dominant Opposition, Citizens Arm, KBP, in round-about way.

How can “Garci” be automated?

  1. Hide a “cheating” program in PCOS (automated retail “dagdag-bawas”)
  2. Store preset results data in CF cards
  3. Tamper with digital results during transmission
  4. Manipulate results through canvassing programs (automated wholesale “dagdag-bawas”)

A parallel manual count will eliminate many of our concerns about an automated “Garci.” We can still do something to make our elections credible.

In implementing an IT system, a pilot run and/or a parallel run is always done. Despite a provision in the law, Comelec did not do a pilot run. This time, we have to demand that the Comelec at least does a parallel run. Manually count all ballots, but only on 3 positions – president, vice-president, and mayor.

Questions the Comelec might ask:

Q: It might delay the release of election results.
A: Our time and motion study shows that this extra step will only take 3 hours for a precinct with 600 voters.

Q: What if there are discrepancies between the PCOS and manual counts?
A: Until today, Comelec has been claiming that PCOS is accurate; if it’s not, then why did they choose this machine in the first place?

Q: But what if there are?
A: Then count the votes for all positions. This is estimated to take approx. 2 days and the canvassing an extra 2 days.

Q: There’s no time to prepare for it.
A: Part of their contingency plan is to print forms needed for manual counting. They might as well print for 100% of precincts.

Q: It’s difficult to implement.
A: It’s not. And it’s a small price to pay for credible elections.

Q: It’s not in the law.
A: The law does not prohibit it either.

Ours is a most reasonable request. It is a simple and most logical solution to the uncertainties in the coming election. There is absolutely no reason why the Comelec will not accept our recommendation. All they need to do is call. We are most willing to sit down with them to discuss the details of this solution.

Gus Lagman is lead convenor of TransparentElections.Org. Ph, former president of Information Technology Foundation of the Philippines (ITFP), former president of Philippine Computer Society (CSP), and former Technology Chief of NAMFREL. This presentation was given at a press conference initiated by the Movement for Good Governance (MGG) on April 13, 2010 at Dusit Thani Hotel, Makati City.

View the slides of the presentation or download the audio file.