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PCOS critics: Put up better options or shut up altogether

09:43 PM March 08, 2013

Until and unless the critics of PCOS (precinct count optical scan) machines can prove that at least 10 ballots from the more than 35 million ballots cast and fed to the PCOS machines in the 2010 elections were erroneously or deliberately credited by the machines to a candidate other than the one voted for, then they should stop making wild speculations that the 2013 elections will be marred with “inaccurate vote count” or may cause “failure of elections.”

The Commission on Elections has already spoken and fully guaranteed that “the PCOS machines cannot be manipulated nor can anyone maneuver them” and that all “glitches” experienced in the 2010 polls had already been corrected. If we cannot believe the Comelec, then who else can we trust with our electoral processes?

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Under Comelec Resolution No. 9640 dated Feb. 15, 2013, which sets the Board of Election Inspectors’ (BEIs) guidelines on the testing and sealing, voting, counting and transmission of results, the BEIs are mandated to test and seal the PCOS machines in their assigned precincts at least seven days before May 13, with notice to candidates and all political parties not later than May 1. This could be the most opportune time for critics of the PCOS to observe the machines’ operation or performance and there and then make an honest-to-goodness evaluation of their effectiveness and accuracy.

The Supreme Court taught us the lesson that the Comelec, being the constitutional body mandated to enforce election laws, “should be permitted to discharge its constitutional role without obstruction or molestation” and should be accorded “the greatest measure of presumption of regularity to its course of action to the end that it may achieve its designed place in the democratic fiber of our government.”

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The Automated Election System (AES) Watch was merely speculating when it warned about “a possible failure of election” in 2013 due to a defective Smartmatic in the 2010 elections, alleging “inaccuracy of the vote count” and absence of “digitally signed” election returns.

The AES Watch is, and should be, aware that not a single election protest involving the 2010 elections succeeded at the Comelec, precisely because the results of the physical count of the ballots (made during the revision and recount stage of the protest) tallied with the results transmitted by the PCOS machines to the various canvassing boards as stored in their respective compact flash (CF) cards.

The absence of the “digital signatures” on the election returns and the certificates of canvass is likewise not material in determining the accuracy of the vote count. These are merely “formal defects” which, as decided by the Supreme Court in various cases, will not affect the results of the election as they are “purely ministerial and technical, by no means mandatory but a mere antecedent measure intended to authenticate the ballot. A contrary ruling would place a premium on official ineptness and make it possible for a small group of functionaries, by their negligence—or worse, their deliberate inaction—to frustrate the will of the electorate.”

—ROMULO B. MACALINTAL,

election lawyer,

Las Piñas City

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TAGS: Elections, letters, PCOS Machines, vote 2013
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