A question of credibility

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THE so-called “60-30-10” theory seems to be the latest travail of the Commission on Elections on the recently conducted midterm elections.  This hypothesis propounded by local statisticians show a statistical pattern for senatorial candidates of the randomly received certificates of canvass:  60% for Team PNoy, 30% for UNA and 10% for candidates belonging to minor political parties grouped together.

The Comelec Chair, Sixto Brillantes was quick to rebut that if indeed there be such a pattern then that is merely coincidental and does not translate to any kind of fraud in the electoral exercise.  “Definitely, there was no fraud.  I’m sure of that because the pattern that they’re saying would mean that it was programmed.  Definitely, it was not programmed.  I will stake my reputation on that:  No one programmed it,” he assured.

It should not be very hard to take that the Comelec chair has good intentions which certainly are not enough to justify irregularities if indeed there are.  But true or not these speculations, which by the looks of it look more than that, were expected even before the elections because of the seeming inaction of the electoral body to answer legitimate questions raised by electoral watchdogs and IT groups.  The transparency, for instance, of the source code has been persistently demanded by these groups aside from it being mandated by law, but this has remained ignored—except a few days before elections when Comelec supposedly opened the code to party representatives and the media for a couple of minutes.  But, of course, it was a mere “moro-moro” because it would take several weeks to really verify the program written on the source code, as even an IT student would know.

The technical glitches that was pervasive on election day was generic.  It meant many things:  from the ballots that could not be inserted into the PCOS machines to the failure of electronic transmission of the contents of the compact flash cards, the election returns.  But the most horrible of them all was the exponential tally received by the PPCRV servers on election day so that by about 10 o’clock or so in the evening PPCRV authorities stopped the transmissions and reportedly called the technicians to look into the matter—which, hopefully, did not mean reprogramming the software in midstream because that could amount to tinkering the source code by an anonymous geek.   But granting it did not happen, still the private companies that supplied the PCOS machines and the software have the capability of tweaking the servers quite easily according to the electronic behavior that they wish the computer program to follow.  Every nerd in town knows that.

At the end of the day, the overarching issue really is all about transparency and credibility.  That was why there was some sense to the suggestion of Bishop Broderick Pabillo to maximize the random manual audit (RMA), which anyway is mandated by law, by doing a parallel manual count.  This could have substantiated once and for all what the Comelec chair is crooning now that there has been no fraud in the current electoral process.  The only rub is he does not present any empirical proof to his claim except a lawyer’s mastery of words and syllogism.

This issue opens with Ibon Features’ “Election 2013: Public exercise, private process.”  Our staff writer, Charles Avila pens the cover story with his “The unbearable stench of an automated election system.”

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