Anything less is a disservice to the Filipino people

Pablo Manalastas
July 7, 2012

I was starting to despair when all the lawyers that matter (the Supreme Court, the COMELEC commissioners, Sen President Juan Ponce Enrile, House Speaker Barzaga, etc) decided, against the advice of the COMELEC Advisory Council, to reuse the Smartmatic PCOS technology for the 2013 elections, in spite of the well-documented and hard to solve bugs and problems of this PCOS technology. What's bothering me so much is why lawyers, who know less than IT people, insist on reusing BAD technology, when IT people have been insisting that this technology is bad and will do another bad job of computerizing election 2013.

The community of IT professionals sees the problem as a technology issue, where the bugs of the Smartmatic-Dominion PCOS stand out as being unsolvable before May 2013. From our collective experience with software bugs, the long litany of Smartmatic PCOS software errors and election administration errors is just too mind-boggling and defies any attempt at solution before 2013. Full and unrestricted access to the source code is a necessary ingredient to fixing the reported bugs, not to mention the unreported ones. But Dominion has complicated the problem by allowing Smartmatic NO ACCESS to the source code, thereby making Dominion the sole source of any solutions based on fixing the source code. And Dominion is not even a signatory to the COMELEC-Smartmatic contract. My educated prediction is that we shall again be using the Smartmatic PCOS in 2013, complete with bugs, like (1) the inability to accept digital signing by people (BEI and BOC) thereby giving COMELEC-Smartmatic the ability to "sell" victory to the highest bidders, (2) the gross errors (33%) in data transmission because of faulty program logic, allowing transmission of incomplete results without reporting the same to the BEI and BOC, (3) mismatch errors between ballot faces and PCOS-config data resulting in "garbage-in garbage-out", because proper match-checking is not built into the program of the PCOS, etc.

It does not matter that the Supreme Court has decided that the contract between COMELEC and Smartmatic is legal and binding. Declaring that the contract is legal and binding does not correct the problems that beset the Smartmatic AES. What is needed is for Dominion to free the source code, and for Smartmatic and Dominion to hire MANY programmers to work on the reported and unreported bugs, while there is still time. Also the community of Filipino programmers must be allowed unrestricted access to the source code, as prescribed by law. Only such universal participation in the bug-fixing process will the programs be fixed in time for election 2013.

Anything less is a disservice to the Filipino people.


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