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Journalist Julie M. Aurelio reports that the election anomalies were worse this year than in 2010 despite proclamations from Comelec chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. that the elections were accurate and had less problems than in 2010:
The recently concluded 2013 automated elections were worse than the 2010 exercise because of the bigger number of errors and the “arbitrary and highly irregular decisions” which compromised the elections’ credibility and transparency, according to a poll watchdog group.
The Automated Elections Systems Watch (AES Watch) deplored the glitches in the precinct count optical scan machines (PCOS) as well as the software licensing issues that came with it.
“Compared to 2010, there are more data discrepancies as well as open and brazen possible manipulation of data at the stage of canvassing and consolidation,” the group said.
The ballot, since it is not immediately fed into the PCOS machine, is exposed to post-voting manipulation. The delay in transmission also means that the returns are open to manipulation,” he said.
Azurin noted that as of Friday night, or five days after the elections, 23 percent of election returns had not yet been transmitted.
Metro Manila, for example, has 10 percent untransmitted returns while the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) had 44 percent.
The 23 percent of untransmitted election returns affected 8.6 million voters, said panelist Temario Rivera.
More than half, or 911, out of the 1,173 reports to AES Watch were PCOS-related, such as initialization errors, machine breakdowns, hardware problems and rejected ballots, while 1,432 clustered precincts reported transmission problems.
AES Watch said it had called for 100 percent full random manual audit weeks before the polls to establish the accuracy of the elections, but this was ignored by the Comelec.
The group also took the Comelec to task for its decision to proclaim the winning senatorial candidates after only 20 percent of election returns had been canvassed. It said the poll body’s action was “arbitrary and highly questionable.”
“All these raise the issue of whether the Comelec is not only short-cutting the process but also dictating the results of the election in violation of the people’s right to suffrage,” the group said.
Nelson Celis of the Philippine Computer Society added that before the May 13 elections, they did not see any document that would attest to the accuracy of the 82,000 PCOS machines deployed all over the country.
Although the Comelec held mock elections in July 2012, the accuracy level was at 97 percent, which Celis said was below the 99.995 percent requirement.
“It is poor project management,” he said.