Watchdog Laments Absence of Concrete Comelec Response to Automation Concerns

Press Release
March 2, 2010

The anti-fraud campaign group Kontra Daya notes with dismay and apprehension that almost two weeks after submitting a letter of concern to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and a week after holding a dialogue with Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal, it has yet to receive any concrete response to the concerns it raised and the recommendations it put forward in relation to the automated elections.

“We would like to remind the Comelec of its responsibility to update us on whatever measures it has taken to address the concerns we raised and the recommendations we put foorward,” said Fr. Joe Dizon, Kontra Daya convener.

In its Feb. 17 letter of concern submitted to Comelec Chairman Jose A. Melo, Kontra Daya tackled the following issues, to wit:

* the necessity of an update on the testing of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines, which Kontra Daya believes is crucial for the machines to function effectively on election day;

* the clear guidelines covering rejection of ballots after this was observed in several mock elections and filed tests;

* the time-consuming character of the automated election procedures, which would likely lead to the massive disenfranchisement of voters; and

* the need to conduct another round of mock elections, this time with the necessary guidelines on rejected ballots in place, and utilizing a broad range of participants and more precincts.

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These same concerns were brought before Commissioner Larrazabal in Kontra Daya’s dialogue with him on Feb. 23.

“In spite of the fact that the distribution of PCOS machines has been completed, there is still no assurance that the automated elections will proceed in order,” Dizon said. “The rejection of ballots and problems in the transmission of results remain common occurrences in subsequent mock elections and field tests that we were able to observe.

“Also, the National Printing Office (NPO) is still behind schedule in its printing of ballots,” Dizon added.

Dizon expressed hope that the Comelec would give serious consideration to Kontra Daya’s concerns and recommendations. #

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