‘VCMs configured to count wrong’

The voter can verify through his or her receipt, but even if he or she sees and reports an error, this erroneous vote has been included in the precinct count.


MANILA – Elections began today all over the Philippines without the Comelec acting on the repeated requests made by an IT expert to verify and ensure that the VCM configuration files match that stated in the ballot.

This followed the observations that the Comelec has loaded VCMs with an “erroneous” configuration which, if uncorrected, would count for example the votes for Duterte or Binay to Roxas instead.

IT expert Pablo Manalastas from Ateneo University and election watchdog AES Watch wrote in a viral post that he has requested the Comelec three times, through the Local Source Code Review Committee, to post all 2000-plus distinct ballot faces and all 92,500-plus election.xml files at the Comelec website. This, so the political parties and the public can review and propose corrections of any errors such as the mismatch they have discovered in some files.

But as of the eve of election day, election watchdog AES Watch said in a statement, “Comelec has not granted our request to post these 92,500-plus election.xml files.”

“At the start of election day, as part of VCM initialization procedure, the hash value of the VCM program, and the hash value of the election.xml file should both be compared with the published known values. Without this hash value-checking by the public, the automated election cannot be trusted to properly count our votes,” Manalastas said.

In English, it means the voters now have no way of knowing if the VCMs continued to be preloaded with commands to “read” and count for Roxas the votes for his rivals. And the same goes for other candidates listed in the ballot.

Mar-counting VCMs

Issues with the Voting Counting Machines have flooded the social media even before the elections.

Compiled by AES Watch, it shared a post on an alleged anomaly in the final testing of the VCM machine in Lanao del Sur. Congressman Karlo Nograles of Davao City, for example, posted in his social media account a report that during the final testing of the PCOS/VCM in the first district of Lanao del Sur, the votes for Duterte were credited to Roxas.

In other posts by other citizens, similar incidents were reported as happening in Bohol, Tarlac, Pangasinan and even overseas such as in Hong Kong.

Manalastas explained that the VCM counts your votes from a list of commands in the SD card of the VCM. It assigned the name of the candidate as he or she is located in specific row and column in the ballot.

The following for example could be mistakenly encoded in some or all of the more than 92,500 VCM computers and 92,500 SD cards (times two, since each VCM has two SD cards):

Manalastas said the voter can verify through his or her receipt, but even if he or she sees and reports an error, this erroneous vote has been included in the precinct count. “The most that he can do is file a complaint with the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI), which is required to enter the complaint in the Minutes of the Precinct,” Manalastas said, adding that the “disenfranchising effect” of the error remains. (https://www.bulatlat.com)

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