Poll Watch and Voters' Education



12 ALERTS FOR May 2013 Automated Elections



Each clustered precinct is at the center stage on Election Day. A. All activities therein must be monitored and if possible covered live by CCTV and made available to the public via internet live streaming. Alternatively, if cost consideration makes it impractical to implement, organize youth and other groups in each barangay to monitor.  During Election Day, they can upload pictures taken at the precincts to watch dogs’ websites for viewing by the public on real time basis.


When the BALLOTS of “kilometric size” arrive in the Provincial Treasurer’s Office, MONITOR them in the premises 24 hours a day until the actual distribution on Election Day. Watch out for PRE-SHADED BALLOTS.  Require the BEI (Board of Election Inspectors) to exhibit every ballot to the public or the watchers before giving it to the voter. Any pre-shaded ballot is prima facie evidence of fraud on the part of the BEI.  With the long-size BALLOT (the longest in the world!), secrecy of voting is compromised.


These boxes are the reservoir of all materials after voting, namely, the used and unused ballots, printed ERs (election returns), CF card, all reports destined for Comelec, and other accountable documents.  Before the start of voting, the ballot box must be shown to watchers to be empty.  The transparent plastic peek holes on the sides must be thoroughly inspected to be well-glued/riveted and not easy to remove.  After PCOS unit installation on top, the cover must be placed/sealed with the assigned official sealing strips and verified/recorded in the BEI’s precinct report. The ballot box should never be opened until the conduct of RMA and/or part of a protest.  Record and report unusual opening of the box.


VOTERS’ lists in 2010 came in three kinds: CVL (certified voters list), CCVL (computerized certified voters’ list) and PVL (provincial voters’ list). In many cases, there were discrepancies in the said lists from the list posted outside the polling center. The CCVL should be considered as the official. Check out the copy posted on the wall or door of the precinct for presence or absence (alive, dead, absent, and unidentified) of any person in your respective barangay. Check out the biometrics list of registered voters. If there are discrepancies, make a manifestation with the election officer and have him/her signed your manifestation and show proof that there are discrepancies. Watch out for flying voters. Make a citizens’ arrest if discovered and verified.


The PCOS machine and the BEI with the technicians are the MAIN observation posts on Election Day at the precinct. Every activity revolves around them.

  • Watchers must position themselves close to the PCOS and the BEI as well as technicians.
  • Check that the protective counter of the PCOS which is controlled by the CF card, starts at ZERO.
  • Watch out for delaying tactics inside the Polling precinct as a pretext to justify extension of voting time including surreptitious shutting down of the PCOS.
  • In case of sudden shutdown, voters must check the electrical connection and ensure this incident is recorded and reported to monitors.
  • Try to distinguish the official precinct-assigned PCOS from the fake and/or contingent PCOS. Because certification and testing are anything but arbitrary, there is no way to know if the PCOS machine at the precinct is the authorized Precinct-assigned PCOS machine. Get an inventory and the serial numbers/identifying marks of PCOS machines delivered to your province and precinct from the Provincial Treasurer’s office and check this against the inventory in the national – Comelec project management office.

    PCOS buying or PCOS control is a new form of modern-day cheating that everybody must be wary of

  • TECHNICIANS, BEIs & BOCs (Board of Canvassers)

No BEIs should ever be allowed to institute the delaying tactic of allowing only 10 voters to vote at any given time.  Voting must proceed freely and continuously.  No BEIs should ever be allowed to break the voting process for any length of time and for any reason.  Watcher should be alerted about undue delay in the voting and transmission process.  Warn them that no extension of voting will ever be allowed and that steps are taken to determine beforehand if deliberate delays are made especially with the operation
of the PCOS like bogging down and shutting the PCOS down. Technicians on the other hand must not tinker with the PCOS machines and other paraphernalia UNLESS technical trouble arises.  Record every activity by the technician especially in entering passwords, inserting CF cards or any external device. BOCs must be guarded as well.


SWITCHING OF CF CARDS PRIOR TO OR IN THE COURSE OF VOTING: Record the serial number of the CF card.  The use of CF card should not have been allowed in automated elections.  But Comelec and Smartmatic insisted. CF Card is not WORM (write once-read many).  New data can be supplanted on the device and thus tampered with especially in the absence of industry-prescribed safeguards like digital signature.  If the CF card is attempted to be switched by the BEIs or Smartmatic personnel prior to or in the course of voting for any reason, precinct watchers must have all BEIs or Smartmatic personnel sign a form stating the reasons thereof and taking note of any identification marks or numbers both of the original and replacement CF cards.  State boldly and clearly the corresponding penalty for the appropriate criminal offense.  

TRANSPORT OF CF CARDS TO MBOC: There should be plastic transparent boxes of a size sufficient to guarantee visibility during transport. This is to prevent switching of CF cards while in transit. If not done, one will never know if the same CF card had been successfully transported.

    CF card buying is a new form of modern-day wholesale cheating in automated elections that everybody must be wary of.


Testing of the transmission is a necessary action that should have been addressed after the 2010 elections.  The February 2, 2013 mock elections using a few PCOS machines in only 12 areas showed dismal transmission problems.  Conflicting DOCUMENTED data in May 2010 on transmission- transmission successfully sent at the national level but record as failed transmission at the precinct level- is an opening for FRAUD. Identify each clustered precinct site for presence or absence of signal with representatives of stakeholders. Compare this data with actual situation on Election Day to determine presence or absence of jamming of signals as an indication of fraud. The SERVERS at the national level, for political parties, citizens’ arm/KBP must be vigilantly watched for discrepancies of data transmission.

    Jamming transmission is a new form of modern-day cheating that everybody must be wary of.


In 2010, the Comelec website was found to contain incomplete and erroneous data entries as confirmed by a report by Dr. Pablo Manalastas, IT Fellow of CenPEG and Ateneo IT Department faculty, submitted to the Comelec and Congress.  It was eventually pulled out from the internet (after only a few weeks when RA 9369 prescribes it should be in full public view on election day and up to three (3 years) after the election.  The May 2013 election results should be posted on the Comelec website continuously.


A competent party with expertise in election audit should be authorized to do it.  Things to remember: 1) Know ahead which clustered precincts are subject to RMA; 2) watch closely that no ballot switching happens during voting until poll closing time; 3) watch closely the opening of the ballot box; 4) Ensure complete accounting of all ballots allocated for the clustered precinct; 5) Ensure that RMA starts at once after polling closes; 6) Get a copy of the printed ER; 7) review the BEI’s report on the activities during polling period. If possible get a copy of the printed audit log; 8) Watch closely the hand counting preparation process from retrieving from the ballot box, their batching, checking for fake ballots before start of hand-counting; 9) Watch closely the actual appreciation of each ballot and tallying of each vote; 10) Ensure that hand-counts are properly recorded and the process for matching the ER count with hand-count are done properly and signed by BEI members; 11) Get a copy of the CP RMA report if possible.


So far, the Comelec as the prime election manager has been inconsistent, un-transparent and tolerant of non-compliance and violations of the law by the technology provider, Smartmatic, on the quality of PCOS technology to be used in local conditions. It has allowed the preparations of the system to proceed without an independent source code review by political parties/interested groups; no updated SLI certification and owner authorization; no corrections of programming errors and no digital signature, among others. The Comelec and its provincial offices are the primary agency to be watched.  It is compromising the quality of preparations for automated elections in the country, to the point of circumventing the laws.


The company providing the voting technology to the Philippines, Smartmatic no longer has the trust of and the license to operate the PCOS technology in the Philippines from the software owner, Dominion Voting System.  What it does and continues to do with the voting technology has dragged the Philippines into a vicious corporate war that compromises the integrity and transparency of the elections and the sovereignty of the country.

Political parties, election watchdogs and other citizens' groups advocating transparent and accountable automated election system must ask the COMELEC to include in the General Instructions, the right to access the following:

  1. Printed Precinct audit logs
  2. Printed MBOC ( Municipal Board of Canvassers) audit logs
  3. Continuing Comelec Public Website which according to RA9369 should be posted on election day and remain posted for three years
  4. Copy of the Full Report of Transmission Results whether successful or not
  5. Random Manual Audit (RMA) results immediately after elections

The right to public information on the PCOS activities on Election Day is important in the light of non-compliance of RA 9369 and IT industry standards like the absence of an independent source code review, lack of industry-prescribed digital signatures, no international certification, and most of all, without the operating license for Smartmatic to use the PCOS technology for 2013 polls from the real owner of the technology, Dominion Voting System.
Protect our votes against modern-day wholesale cheating!

Prepared by: CenPEG Election Team with AES Watch – Filipino IT 4 Elections (FIT4E) and Biliran Kawsa/ February 21, 2013

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