By Leslie Ann G. Aquino
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday assured the public that the glitches that occurred during the midterm polls did not affect its results.
Commissioner Marlon Casquejo, head of the Comelec 2019 Steering Committee, explained that all the components of the automated election system (AES), passed local source code review and even received certification.
“All of these AES components passed through the local source code review and all of the AES major components passed through with flying colors with certification. We can say that the result of the elections is valid and credible,” he said in a press briefing at the PICC Forum in Pasay City which serves as the headquarters of the National Board of Canvassers.
On Election Day, the Comelec also reported that 400 to 600 vote counting machines out of 85,000 had issues. A thousand SD (Secure Digital) cards also experienced issues.
Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas later revealed that the defective VCMs totaled 961 or 1.1 percent of the total VCM.
The defective SD cards totaled 1,665 out of the 85,769.
Casquejo also explained that the delay in the release of the results in the transparency server Monday night was only due to the inflow of the arrival of data.
“I want to make sure to the public that it did not affect the result in the transparency server. In fact, during the process of doing the investigation by our IT team, our transparency server is still receiving results coming from the VCM,” he said.
The dip in the election results in the transparency server early Tuesday, Casquejo said, was due to java app error which was already corrected.
“It was corrected again by just starting again the FTP (File Transfer Protocol) app. We no longer have a problem with that,” he said.
“I just want to assure the public that the FTP app is entirely separate from the transparency server. It will not affect the results of the transparency server,” added Casquejo.
He said he is actually proposing to the en banc that all the audit logs and system logs of the transparency server will be given to their local source code reviewer, to their advisory council, Joint Congressional Oversight Committee, and media so they can assess the system.
Despite the glitches, Casquejo said the conduct of the elections was still a “success.”
“We can say that the elections is successful. In fact, we are already in the 96 percent transmission. Our transmission is faster compared to the past elections,” he said.
While Malacañang agrees with the Comelec that the glitches won’t affect the election results, it said that the incident should serve as a lesson to the poll body.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the poll body should review its contract with Smartmatic, the supplier of the VCMs, as well as consider the regular testing of such vital equipment to ensure their efficiency.
“They should. That should teach them a lesson. There must be something wrong,” Panelo said during a Palace press briefing, when asked if the Comelec should review the contract with Smartmatic and its vote counting machines.
Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, chair of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the Automated Elections System (JCOC-AES) for the Senate, on Tuesday said he plans to call for an inquiry on the disruptions of the voting process yesterday due to defective VCMs.
“Glitches are enough to call for a congressional investigation. Why are we still having all these glitches? Cannot Comelec (Commission on Elections) anticipate them?” Pimentel said.
Pimentel said he would coordinate with JCOC-AES House panel chair, CIBAC partylist Rep. Sherwin Tugna, for the holding of the congressional oversight hearing when sessions resume on May 20.
Bayan Muna chairman and senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares demanded answers from the Comelec and Smartmatic regarding the lengthy, seven-hour glitch encountered by its transparency server following the close of the polls Monday.
“We demand a full explanation from the Comelec and Smartmatic. Otherwise, the credibility of this year’s elections will be in doubt,” Colmenares said, referring to Comelec’s tech partner.
“The essence of automating the election is speed and transparency but the national canvassing is being beset with delay and secrecy,” Colmenares said.
He slammed the poll body for supposedly failing to achieve the end goal of automation, which the country first took up during the 2010 presidential elections.
“In the past, dagdag-bawas [vote shaving-padding] took place amid the delays in canvassing and lack of transparency. That is what automation was supposed to cure. But apparently, Comelec has failed,” he added. (With reports from Genalyn D. Kabiling, Vanne P. Terrazola, and Ellson A. Quismorio)