Comelec welcomes criticisms on poll automation

Published by rudy Date posted on April 14, 2009

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said it welcomes various groups’ raising “warning flags” on full automation of elections in 2010, saying it’s an indication of sincere concern.

“We are very grateful that many groups are coming forward to air their concerns. In fact, if you read their statement you will see that they are not against automation per se, but are merely raising warning flags – identifying aspects of the project that are most vulnerable,” Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said.

He was referring to an abs-cbnnews.com/Newsbreak report, which showed that various sectors were worried that a flawed automation might lead to a failure of election and chaos.

The critics warned that full automation is an “open invitation to disaster.”

Critics led by former Comelec chief Christian Monsod and information technology expert Gus Lagman were advocating an open election system in which votes would be counted manually but the canvassing of results would be computerized.

The Computer Professionals Union (CPU) has also warned of “large scale” cheating if poll automation is not properly done.

But Jimenez said even CPU admitted that an automation system could be made foolproof if thoroughly reviewed by independent experts in computer security and cryptography.

He said that CPU had only wanted the source code of the system to be open to the public to allow interested individuals as well as experts to scrutinize the functions of the systems.

Jimenez added that under Republic Act 9369 or the Poll Automation Law, it is mandatory for authorities to open the source code for review.

“There are other recommendations from the group, and I would like to reassure them that most of those recommendations are already part and parcel of the project,” he said.  -– Sheila Crisostomo, Philippine Star

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