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Watchdog: Scrap old counting machines

GOV’T WATCH led by industrialist Raul Concepcion is urging government to make transparent its plan for the use of election automated systems (AES) in the  2016 Presidential Elections.

The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) has to “decide, announce and prepare the AES it intends to use in the elections especially since there are barely 20 months remaining until election day,” he said in a statement.

“COMELEC  may opt to correct the remaining flaws and reuse the existing system. Better yet, could consider the wisdom of using a new system altogether and discard the old PCOS machines.”

According to Concepcion, the poll mechanism “must be of the highest credibility, especially since doubts about the results of the 2013 automated elections remain”.

GOV’T WATCH called for electoral reforms especially after the Senate Oversight Committee last September 18 manifested the omission of certain requirements prescribed by the Automated Election Law.

These include the lack of ultraviolet lamps to authenticate ballots, voter verification for independent audit results, digital signatures to verify  results and electronic transmission, and mandatory source code review to validate digital instructions and commands written in the computer program that controls and operates the PCOS.

“There is enough time for public hearings, biddings and consultations to be conducted. There is enough time for appropriate funds,  award contracts, make purchases and receive delivery,” GOV’T WATCH said.

“There is enough time for enough time for installation, training of election personnel, quality control  & audit, and most importantly an open and transparent review of all hardware and software source code.”

GOV’T WATCH said COMELEC should spare no expense to ensure a clean and credible election and ask for supplemental budget on top of its approved P16.9 billion if needed.

It also encouraged qualified and unregistered voters to register early and the last-minute rush.

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