May 10, 2010 is also the time to be outspoken and vocal: the law allows the political parties and the Citizens’ Arm to demand (well, you can be nice and charming at the same time, firm while making your demand) that the counting machine (precinct count optical scan) be tested on the day of the election and right before the official voting starts; this is in addition to the testing that is being done on the re-configured compact flash drives today.
[For a background, as everyone knows by now (after the Smartmatic-Comelec snafu that’s threatening to hijack the elections), the program in the compact flashcard is configured to read shades and spaces: black shades and white spaces; not letters. But somebody changed the single-spaced layout of the second page of the ballot and made it double-spaced, maybe for aesthetic reasons, to fill up the page or “close the page”, to use newseditors’ and layout artists’ parlance. Names of candidates on the second page were laid out in double space instead of single space, so the machine read the spaces-in-between as zero vote for the second-named candidate, whose name on the other hand appeared on the third line (because it’s double-spaced). Smartmatic and Comelec reported today that they have successfully re-configured all 76,000 compact flashcards and these are now being transported nationwide, they’re skipping however the “Gloria-Garci territories” of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte for security reasons daw (i’ll leave that for another blog post)].
The next hurdle is to help prevent or to detect wholesale cheating through tampered compact flashcards.
Since the compact flashcard (memory card) also stores the data on the votes, it is like a virtual ballot box and election return, except that, its contents are invisible. Concerned parties are given the right to publicly inspect it by testing the device (the representative also better know what they’re looking for; by this time, seminars and workshops should have been conducted on this). This is akin to inspecting and making sure that the ballot box is empty.
Doomsdaysaying should be accompanied with measures on: what one could do to prevent doomsday, or mitigate its effect, or at least, with measures on how to document… how we’re getting killed, that is, if you are prevented from inspecting and testing the device on the day of the election and right before voting, you should raise hell – you do not know the contents of the memory card – we’re getting killed that way: You should document.
The next three days should be spent by the parties concerned (political parties and Citizens’ Arm) on making sure that their representatives at the precinct level know how to assert their rights.
At the very least, the representatives of the parties concerned at the precinct level should be provided already with a ready “spiel” so they won’t fumble when asking that the device be tested right before voting begins.
(and of course, their lawyers should be on stand-by)
Here’s what the law provides
Republic Act 9369 Automated Election Law as amended:
“Sec. 12. Section 10 of Republic Act No. 8436 is hereby amended to read as follows:
“ `Sec. 14. Examination and Testing of Equipment or Device of the AES and Opening of the Source Code for Review. – The Commission shall allow the political parties and candidates or their representatives, citizens’ arm or their representatives to examine and test.
“ `The equipment or device to be used in the voting and counting on the day of the electoral exercise, before voting starts. Test ballots and test forms shall be provided by the Commission.
” `Immediately after the examination and testing of the equipment or device, the parties and candidates or their representatives, citizens’ arms or their representatives, may submit a written comment to the election officer who shall immediately transmit it to the Commission for appropriate action.
” `The election officer shall keep minutes of the testing, a copy of which shall be submitted to the Commission together with the minutes of voting.
” `Once an AES technology is selected for implementation, the Commission shall promptly make the source code of that technology available and open to any interested political party or groups which may conduct their own review thereof.”
Remember: this is no time to be shy.