Konfrontasi

President flip-flops on nurses. More investigating needed -but at least students will be assisted in terms of expenses.

House of Representatives backpedals, for the moment, on its constituent assembly scheme. Too unseemly to force it through? Or a bigger chance for a big vote, as the President can leverage pork barrel releases to oppositionists from devastated provinces? Or do they know something about the Supreme Court’s coming decision no one else does?

But the Supreme Court insists the vote-counting machines can’t be used, period.

Read the Ombudsman’s report to the Supreme Court:
OMB-Supplemental-Resolution-on-the-Mega-Pacific-Case-September-27-2006.doc. Palace trying to slither away from it.

Ambassadorial appointments in disarray. Heard scuttlebutt that the Philippine consul-general in Jeddah is wildly unpopular among Filipinos there and is due to be replaced.

CBCP condemns murder of Aglipayan bishop.

Vegetables appreciate (in price). Why not a Department of Disasters?

In the punditocracy, I have to two columns today. My Arab News column for this week is Suffrage for Overseas Filipino Workers (see for the survey on overseas Filipinos). My Inquirer column for today is Konfrontasi (see the Orwell chapter I quoted).

John Mangun writes on corporate social responsibility -and billboards.

Suthichai Yoon on what the Thai junta has to do (while Thaksin’s party continues to implode).

Lurid IM’s put not only Tom Foley but his party, as Liz Sidoti puts forward, in hot water. Slate explains Foley’s an ephebophile, not a pedophile.

I’d like to reproduce the initial findings of One Voice’s lawyers, along with some documentation:

Initial findings reveal flaws, fake signatures in Sigaw’s petition – One Voice

An election officer in Jose Abad Santos, Davo del Sur certified in its report on the signature campaign submitted to the Commission on Elections that “most signatures are fabricated.”

In the first congressional district of Davao City, Acting Election Officer IV Reynee Joy B. Bullecer certified that “it appeared that of the TWENTY FOUR THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED THIRTY-FOUR (24,734) individuals, only TWENTY TWO THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-FOUR (22,124) individuals are found to be REGISTERED VOTERS, in the Computerized Voters List of the FIRST CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT, DAVAO CITY.”

These form part of the initial discoveries made by lawyers opposed to a fake people’s initiative during the first few hours of their visit to the Commission on Election’s law department where all the Sigaw ng Bayan documents are being kept.

The Supreme Court directed the Comelec to allow the opposing legal counsels to examine the documents submitted by Sigaw ng Bayan to the Commission on Elections during the oral arguments held last September 26.

“We are confident that the Supreme Court will acknowledge that the gathering of these signatures was really a tainted process,” One Voice legal counsel Atty. Carlos Medina of the Ateneo School of Law’s Human Rights Center said.

According to Atty. Neri Colmenares, some of the election officers verified to the number of individuals found to be registered voters, not the signatures submitted.

Atty. Abigail Binay, on the other hand, examined the signature sheets submitted for Makati City with double entries of names, signature of voter’s that don’t exist in the city’s voters’ registration list, among other discrepancies.

“What we have here is a collection of signatures, not a genuine people’s initiative,” Atty. Medina of One Voice said, adding that the proposed changes to the Constitution were not even attached to the signature sheets submitted to the Commission on Elections.

Initial findings of the opposing counsels are as follows:

‘ A number of certificates submitted by election officers verified not the signatures but the names in the list as corresponding to names in the voters’ registration lists.
‘ Some certificates did not state that the 3% requirement per legislative district was met.
‘ One election officer remarked that most signatures were fabricated which is supported by the signature sheets from Makati City that revealed many signatures disowned by the voters themselves.
‘ One legislative district was guided by the 2004 voters’ registration list while a different municipality relied on a more recent voters’ list.
‘ The petition containing the proposed constitutional changes was not attached to each of the signature sheets submitted to the Comelec.

The legal panel arguing against the People’s Initiative of Sigaw ng Bayan will attach all their findings with a corresponding explanation to the memorandum that they would be submitting to the Supreme Court.

“I wish we were given more time to go over each and every box, and every certificate. Based on our initial findings, we have no doubt that we have here a spurious initiative governed by a non-existent process for all the wrong reasons,” Atty. Medina stressed.

The opposing legal counsels are scheduled from Wednesday until Friday to examine the documents. Representatives of Sigaw ng Byan were also present during the examinations.

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    • Jojo on October 5, 2006 at 10:29 am

    Manolo, just a minor correction: No one uses Achmad as Sukarno’s first name. He was always known by one name as many Indonesians are (Suharto, being the other).

  1. mlq3, the only people who ever said that the ombudsman’s resolution would lead to the use of the acms were the ones who like raising these kinds of spectres to scare people. the comelec never said it would use the decision to push for the acms.

  2. House of Representatives backpedals, for the moment, on its constituent assembly scheme. Too unseemly to force it through? Or a bigger chance for a big vote, as the President can leverage pork barrel releases to oppositionists from devastated provinces?

    If Arroyo ties the release of funds for the devastated provinces on the condition that the opposition members who represent the areas vote for her CONASS, or vote to kill that impeachment complaint, then this administration would have sunk to a new low, in my opinion.

    • Arbet on October 5, 2006 at 2:48 pm

    And if the opposition members take the bait, then they are as worse as Nograles and Pichay et al.

    • Joselu on October 5, 2006 at 3:33 pm

    i still hope that there is a way to be able to use those counting machines for next years election.
    it will make a world of difference for the conduct of the election.
    because, if not, conducting the elctions in our “primitive” way will be like walking in to a disaster.
    i just hope that a balance between legalities & the greater good can be found.
    being a poor country we surely know how to waist money by not using something that is almost completely paid for & still spend millions to maintain them.
    all because of being so stubborn for legalities and being obsessed of looking for the criminals of a crime that perception has made so real in our imaginations.
    if we really are serious of wanting to have credible elections.i think efforst should be done to presure the SC to use those machines.

  3. The SC has to admit it erred before those machines could be used. What are the chances of that to happen? The announcement that the decision is already final says that the answer is NIL!

    In the same vein, if ever the SC admits it made a mistake, then Mercy Gutierrez will then be the best Ombudsman ever(someone who’s not afraid of anybody even the SC!)…

    • MAHABHARATA on October 5, 2006 at 4:48 pm

    DAMN GMA !!! the ROOT of ALL EVIL is GLORIA

    • cvj on October 5, 2006 at 6:26 pm

    Postigo, in the 9-August post of mlq3 (‘Over in Six Days’), you were defending the ACMs so it’s good that there is no longer any intention to push for them. BTW, i had a question at that time in connection with how the ACMs would be used, which i hope you could still answer (for the sake of academic discussion of course since they no longer will be deployed.):

    Where would the local counting centers [i.e. ACMs] be located and is there traceability (for auditing purposes in cases of dispute) between the precinct tallies (i.e. individual ballot box) and the figures that are to be electronically transmitted to the National Counting center?

    • Francis on October 5, 2006 at 6:51 pm

    If the opposition bites they’ll be as rich as Nograles and Pichay not as worse…

    I’ll vote for Joseph Estrada if he runs for a senate seat, so I my vote can be counted as a protest that the GMAs coup d’etat is ILLEGAL…

    peace to all and Merry Christmas!!!

    • UP student on October 5, 2006 at 7:20 pm

    John Mangun wrote:
    The MMDA under its current chairman properly says that they tried to do something about the potential problem but were constrained by the courts. The courts properly claim that the MMDA did not follow the rule of law. Local government officials properly say that they approved the construction of the billboards because law allows them. The billboard companies properly claim that the winds were “act of God” and they had no intent to build a structure that could cause fatalities. The corporations properly say that they merely used the billboards, which are a legal means of advertising. All are correct.

    Write four times on the blackboard : The courts properly claim that the MMDA did not follow the rule of law. The MMDA did not follow the rule of law. The MMDA did not follow the rule of law. The MMDA did not follow the rule of law.

  4. CVJ, the decision to not use the ACMs was not based on the soundness of the ACMs. I’m sorry if I didn’t respond to your question. Anyway, to answer:

    the location of the counting centers will be finalized about 60 days before election day. selection parameters include power supply, ease of securing, and sufficient floor space to accomodate the ACM, at least 1.5 meters of open space around each ACM, and sufficient space for political watchers and media observers to directly watch the ACM and its operation. This means that the counting centers would have probably been located in school gymnasiums.

    traceability? absolutely. Even without electronic transmission, each acm creates a hard and soft copy of everything it tallies, all the way down to the precinct level.

    • Bafil on October 5, 2006 at 7:32 pm

    MLQ,
    your analysis of the present administration’ s survival tactics as presented in the Konfrontasi column is most illuminating and I wholeheartedly agree with it. What got me thinking, however, after reading the quoted passage from good old Orwell, is whether one could truly compare GMA to either Orwell’s Big Brother or to the “less courageous” tyrants mentioned – namely Nazis and Russian communists. GMA would seem to fit with the latter, for she is likewise “hypocritical” in not saying openly that the power is and end, not a means, to her. On the other hand, she has not formulated any ideology similar to theirs (meaning Nazis and commies) – i.e. building a global empire based on the supremacy of the racially pure “Herrenrase” or establishing an egalitarian society devoid of the capitalist exploitaition. One wants to say Thank God for that, but the visible lack of any ideology proves she really has nobody to represent but those whose sole interest is the continuation of the present status quo in the Philippine society. Nevermind the economist reformist rhetoric, that is really just an excuse to justify her being a president for so long without visibly moving the country anywhere.

  5. mlq3,

    At the rate GMA is going, she could go down in history as one of the most hated leaders in the region. GMA is making Marcos and Suharto look good.

    GMA’s ideology? Something baser than any of the wost socio-political-isms. GMA’s ideology has sank from Survivalism to Cannibalism, from promoting Esperons to praising Palparans.

    • cvj on October 5, 2006 at 11:15 pm

    Thanks comelecako, i know you’re busy. Will there still be preliminary counting of the ballots at the precinct level? I ask because there is a risk that the ballot boxes (or ballots) can be switched in transit from precincts to counting center. If there is no initial tally of votes at the precincts, the hardcopies produced by the ACMs at the counting centers won’t serve its purpose as it cannot be compared with anything.

    • cvj on October 6, 2006 at 12:33 am

    Bafil, it is not possible for GMA (or any political leader) to hold on to power by force and corruption alone. While she herself has not articulated an ideology, GMA’s staying power can be explained by the explicit or tacit support of Filipinos who hold the following ideas:

    1. ‘Elitism – The root ideology that sustains GMA. A substantial chunk of the EDSA 2 crowd has taken on these pretensions. From Wikipedia – “Elitism is the belief or attitude that the people who are considered to be the elite — a selected group of persons with outstanding personal abilities, wealth, specialized training or experience, or other distinctive attributes — are the people whose views on a matter are to be taken the most seriously, or that these are persons whose views should be regarded as carrying the most weight, or, more simply, these people are best fit to govern…” This drives the grassroots support for Gloria’s Charter Change initiative and accounts for the muted response to Hello Garci among otherwise decent people.

    2. ‘The Noble Lie‘ – A logical offshoot of elitism, and the foundation for the Administration’s strategy of favoring appearance over reality. This idea originated from Plato and reflects the belief that, in order to maintain stability, it is necessary for a ruler (or ruling class) to lie to the common people who are not as smart and must therefore be protected from the truth. The lies that the Administration puts out are rationalized and condoned on this basis.

    3. ‘Make government and politicians irrelevant‘ – While this idea may have its origins in justified frustration and cynicism, it also has the [unfortunate]effect of preserving the status quo. I cannot tell whether the people who belong to this camp are true believers or just telling themselves a ‘noble lie’. Nevertheless, the end result is the same either way so the people who subscribe to this belief can be considered GMA’s ‘Fellow Travellers’.

  6. thanks, mlq3!

  7. cvj, nope. there is no initial recount that i know of. but then, on the other hand, wouldn’t that be strange? We are automating to replace hand counting, and yet we use hand-counting to double check automation? At some point, we’re going to have to trust the systems built around automation. At some point, voters are going to have to step up and take responsibility too. Take ballot snatching for instance. The only thing the COMELEC can do to prevent that is beef up security for transport. Automation aint a magic pill – and it is stupid of people to say or think otherwise.

    • Bafil on October 6, 2006 at 5:30 am

    cvj,
    I believe you are onto something there. Gloria herself certainly is a prime example of an elitist. I still vividly remember her claims from earlier this year that she was “the best pesron to lead” and that it was “God’s plan” she was there. But don’t tell me that many more people than her narrow clique of bootlickers share this view. If she really was that great she would at least be able to do something about the two insurgencies that have been ripping the country apart. And I mean something smarter and politically more daring than the primitive use of force which seems to be her “magic formula”.

  8. i’m goin’ to read this, “The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists” by Robert Tressell, the description of the book is pretty intriguing and it also has good reviews over the internet, i’d like to share it with you, but I guess you’ve read it, you’re a bookworm!

    • tbl on October 6, 2006 at 7:07 am

    “Tolentino said the soldiers would be assured that they would get their contributions and their pensions — which would be paid by the national government and not by the RSBS.”

    Will it mean another “crime commited without criminals”? All started with the infamous tape, “Hello Garci”

    The list goes on and on….meantime, the Filipino taxpayers are footing all the bills.When will this end?

    • artz on October 6, 2006 at 10:00 am

    What`s happening?

    We are like a boxer who just accepts the blows and is now probably one punch away from being declared loser by TKO.
    No, we can`t win on points anymore. After the House of Representatives killed the 2nd impeachment, even a draw would be too far-fetched now. What we need now is one killer punch to knock off our opponent.

    mlq3, you know why Gloria keeps on flip-flopping on the re-take of the nursing exam? Because she can`t properly defend her position to have it re-taken since she also doesn`t allow a re-election to take place. A cheating occured during the nursing exam, a re-take is necessary, right? A cheating occured during the 2004 elections, no re-election is necessary, right?

    mlq3, a criminal has been apprehended. And after further interrogation, the mastermind is unmasked. Charged everybody including the mastermind, right? A crime was found and FIO Atty. Ma. Elena Roxas forwarded her findings to the panel where all of the perpetrators of the crime are unmasked. No charges are filed, absolve all of them, right?

    • tbl on October 6, 2006 at 11:30 am

    wrong….but the filipinos are sleeping!

    • tbl on October 6, 2006 at 11:43 am

    someone just told me that most of those who may do something about all the things happening now are out of the country. remember 10 million pinoys are working hard, just to keep our country afloat. he thinks that these ofws are the ones who in the first place were restless, active and have the nerves to do a change but opted to do it in some other ways.most of the people they left in rp are just content with what they have. this is one theory which he said may be questioned by many pinoys. he agreed that the significant number of ofws may really have an impact.

    • realistic on October 6, 2006 at 12:02 pm

    cvj,

    I know of no one who believes that the 2007 elections will not be rigged, acms or no acms.

    Vote reading machines have been tested in the US. The hardware failed miserably. In addition, software experts and in certain cases demonstrated how easily programs running in these machines can be hacked.

    Using acms, particularly with the current administration, is just asking for it. Thankfully, the SC had ruled that its use is illegal, despite claims of wannabe experts that the SC have no clue regarding automation.

    • cvj on October 6, 2006 at 12:09 pm

    Realistic, i agree.

    Comelecako, under present circumstances where the integrity of the voting process is under a cloud,I think doing away with precinct level tally is a step backward. The Open voting consortium has a proposed system which may address these shortcomings both from an automation and process standpoint:

    http://www.openvotingconsortium.org/faq

  9. open voting talks about a voting machine, cvj. just like botong pinoy. and this is why i’m against that kind of set-up.

  10. and in any case, we’re not automating, remember? If at all, that’ll be done in 2010. In the meantime, work continues on fine-tuning the automation scenario.

    • cvj on October 6, 2006 at 4:44 pm

    comelecako, the direct voting machine can do without the bells and whistles proposed by Mega Data like 2D Barcode (printing out a normal barcode like those found in grocery items should be fine) and biometrics (of dubious marginal benefit for this purpose). Stripped of these unique components, you can cobble together a system made from commonly purchased hardware (pc + Printer) and software (preferably open source running on linux) which conforms to the Open Voting Consortium’s guidelines.

    Having said that, in project implementation terms, 2010 is just around the corner so better start as early as possible. Environment (facility, power and cabling) preparation, rollout and user training will take the bulk of your time as these logistical matters cannot be shortened. Maybe the Comelec can sponsor a contest among the Philippine universtities to come up with a working end to end system based on a set of guidelines. You may also ask the students to come up with ways to get around usability issues. In today’s world of commodity computing and open source, proprietary vendors are overrated for these kinds of relatively simple solutions. Let them make their killing elsewhere.

    • melvinsky on October 6, 2006 at 4:48 pm

    Re: Pinoys not fighting
    Pinoys no longer want to fight now because their families are surviving thru OFW income. They no longer want a repeat of edsa 1 and 2 just to give power to another set of undeserving leaders. Pinoy now opts for flight instead of fight. Bahala Na!

    • cvj on October 6, 2006 at 5:23 pm

    Bafil, unlike Marcos and Estrada, what’s keeping Gloria in place is not personal allegiance. However, this has always been more than just a battle of personal loyalties. What has been taking place is contestation between two types of discourse – elitist vs. egalitarian, and right now, the former has the upper hand and this is in no small part due to support from a substantial portion of the public.

  11. some good suggestions there CVJ. I’ll pass ’em along.

    • UP student on October 6, 2006 at 11:25 pm

    cvj, To put the nation’s election-processes in the hands of students and academia (who are condescending towards those who “don’t get it” and just as maintainability, scalability and quality assurance) is high-risk.

    • UP student on October 6, 2006 at 11:26 pm

    …weak in the issues of maintainability, scalability and quality assurance.. students/university are…

    • cvj on October 7, 2006 at 2:08 am

    UP Student, i suggested giving the students a crack at proposing an automated electoral system (complete with a working prototype) because i’m banking on their drive and creativity. i see it as a welcome engineering challenge for them. Anyway, the Comelec will be the judge. I take your point that owing to lack of experience, they may be weak on matters that concern maintainability, scalability, and quality assurance but this could be addressed by getting veterans from the IT and Telecoms sectors as advisers.

  12. UP student. you asked about your ID? To get the new id, you have to have your registration validated. I seem to remember you mentioned that you registered in 2001. We weren’t using DCMs then, and the ID’s we issued were of a different sort.

    Rego, i’m just preparing the procedure for getting your OAV ID. I don’t have your personal info, so I’m just posting the whole procedure. Check in on my site in a day or two and see where you are in the process. Maybe that’ll help us track your ID down.

    • UP student on October 7, 2006 at 12:06 pm

    cvj and comelecAko…. have either you even seen how elections are done (with machines) in the US or in India?

    • cvj on October 7, 2006 at 12:53 pm

    UP Student, no i haven’t had a chance to.

    • UP student on October 7, 2006 at 1:47 pm

    cvj, There are 2 technologies for electronic voting machines — DRE (direct recording electronic) and Optical Scan. With DRE, the choices for an electoral position are presented to the voter on the screen/monitor; the voter chooses (by pressing an “X” on the screen beside his choice). There are various choices for error-correction and moving from page to page. Once the voter has completed his “ballot”, he presses another spot on the screen and all his choices are Directly Recorded onto a “device” on the voting machine.
    Optical Scan uses 2 machines — a ballot-marker and a vote-counter. You make your choices on the ballot-marker machine. The choices are presented to the voter on the screen, choices are made in a manner as it is done with the DRE. Once completed with making choices, you “press a button” and a paper-document, the filled-up ballot form, is generated. This ballot is then entered into a second machine (with optical scanning capabilities). The vote-logging and other necessary functions are done on this second machine. [OpenVotingConsortium is optical-scan technology.]
    The OpenVotingConsortium proposal/optical scan solves the Gore-vs-Bush/Florida “hanging chad” mishap by having another machine receive the votes AND prepare the document to be read by the optical scan machine.
    ++ DRE-machines will be $5,000 to $10,000;
    ++ Ballot-marker will be $4,000-$6,000;
    ++ Ballot-reader will be $4,000-$7,000.

    There are a few more cost-items to be considered (but mouse pointing devices are usually not used).

    India can tally-up its national election results as fast as the US can.

    • UP student on October 7, 2006 at 1:59 pm

    Off-the-shelf PC’s and other devices are avoided for reasons of security. Optical scan technology (with 2 machines) is more expensive but it provides a more robust audit-trail. Costs go higher when battery-powered and/or ruggedized hardware are necessary. When the polls close, the voting machines are physically transported to central collecting points, again, for security reasons. The machines are isolated from the internet to protect against hackers.

    • UP student on October 7, 2006 at 2:29 pm

    comelecAko, to get a SWAG — Sophisticated Wild Ass Guess — of the cost to implement electronic voting in the Philippines, take the number of polling places, multiply by 4 (machines per polling place), then multiply by $10,000. Multiply the result by 140% (transportation costs, other material, training). Factor in the profit mark-up by multiplying by another 130%. Then multiply by 120% to 400% for “phantom mark-up” (depending on how open and transparent the bidding and selection process is).
    US companies can easily be competitive (against an Indian- or British companies or a Philippine company) because the US Department of Commerce provides insurance- and other to help US companies export its products and services abroad.

  13. up student, each evm is like a calculator that can only add up the votes entered into it. at the end of the day, the vote totals from each evm is copied by hand and entered into an excel spreadsheet, and that’s where all the totals are summed up. Or at least that’s how the indian elections commissioner explained it to me when he visited the COMELEC a few months back. with the evms he demo’ed. 🙂

    and advocates of DRE should really look at UP student’s SWAG. In the 2004 elections, there were 451,197 precincts; multiply that by 4 … and so on. That is how expensive it will be. With this forumla (as tongue-in-cheek as it is) the cost will run into the multiple billions. You can just imagine how vigorously all the losing bidders will howl in protest WHOEVER wins that contract, and never mind how transparent the whole process was.

    • cvj on October 7, 2006 at 3:07 pm

    UP Student, thanks for the explanation of the Open Voting Consortium’s method, that was very useful. Making our version of the DRE-machines, Ballot-makers and Ballot-readers cheaper without losing its security features is a challenge i believe our University students (and other interested parties) can take up.

    In terms of procedure, i believe that the precinct level tally where the teachers read out the votes and mark them on the blackboard for everyone to see is still the best guarantee to traceability so i don’t think we should do away with this. The social nature of such an activity in terms of getting people to accept the collective mandate is also a benefit in itself. Given this set-up, the automation can be built around speeding up transmission in a secure manner. With this in mind, the above components will have the following roles:

    1. ‘DRE’ – a PC to capture the voter’s choice. (This is where the most R&D needs to be done by the university students to ensure usability by those unfamiliar with using computers.)
    2. ‘Ballot-Marker’ – A printer using plain paper to generate the ballot both in human readable and bar-coded form.
    3. ‘Ballot-reader’ – A PC with a bar code scanner to record the results as a prelude to transmission.

    ***At the end of the voting, this recorded value will be cross-checked against the manual precinct-level tally conducted as described above.***

    Upon completion of the count to everyone’s satisfaction, the results are uploaded to the Internet (with the appropriate security safeguards implemented.)

    My take is to still have the old fixtures of manual counting witnessed by everyone, with only the recording, transmission and publishing of results speeded up. Any automation that does away with the precinct tally will not inspire confidence.

    Would you have a description of how India automated its elections as well? (A few months back, i read about some talk of using their system, but none since then.)

    Regarding your SWAG, i believe you’re also on the mark if this is to be treated as a normal government bidded exercise. This is where the social conscience of the IT and Telecoms companies would come in. While the investment is not negligible, the bid or bids can be structured such that the project to automate voting does not go to a few multinational IT firms and their local political connections. The mechanics to implement and strengthen democracy should not be looked upon as just another big deal to make a killing out of as how it has been approached by these firms up to now (whether MPC or TIMC). The project to conduct automated elections is more in the nature of holding an event like the Olympics only with bigger stakes for all of us Filipinos.

    • cvj on October 7, 2006 at 3:47 pm

    comelecako, UP student’s SWAG is a good start (which i concur with) but there is a reason why it is called a ‘Sophisticated Wild Ass Guess’. Since the basis for the computation is a variable cost component (not a fixed cost item), we do not have to leave it at that. The estimate has been arrived at by multiplying a given unit cost (USD 10,000) by other units (number of precincts x 4). Any change in either variable can have a significant impact on the cost. For example, (with the help of investigations conducted by the University students) using off the shelf components can bring down the unit costs. Also, the number of booths per precinct can also be revisited since it does not take an average of 28 minutes to cast a vote. Implementation can also be phased so that the technology does not have to be deployed in all areas. Investment on such capital equipment can also be maximized by putting it to multiple uses along the lines advocated by Senator Gordon. Alternative approaches may be cheaper, but any automation that does away with verifiability at the precinct level, in the Philippine setting, is a non-solution to achieving the primary design spec of achieving speed with integrity. Also, for this, can you try to stay away from the ‘Mega-bid’ approach? For the solution, you might be better off harnessing the public sphere and by leveraging the availability of technology based on open systems.

  14. cvj, i admire your obviously well-thought out comments. however, the use of DRE – or a VotingMachine + VoteCountingMachine combo – needs to be more exhaustively studied, and when we do that, I think it won’t sound as good.

    With regard to the points you raised specifically: you’re right. it doesn’t take 28 minutes to vote. Gordon’s own TWG studies showed an average of 15 minutes per voter – using test subjects from manila. take that to the hinterlands, or even to depressed communities in urban centers, that figure could easily balloon to 25 minutes. And if you pressure people to vote quickly, how many errors do you think the people will make? And how loudly will people complain afterward?

    one of the standards by which we measure the desirability of a particular election solution is usability. can ordinary people make sense of the GUI? If you have problems there, you will want to re-think your solution.

    phased implementation – that is what we intended to do. if you remember, before the deal was struck down in 2004, it had already been proposed that the scope of implementation be narrowed down to about 13 provinces.

    precinct-level verifiability – i told you that the ACMs have this capability, and you replied by adding yet another requirement: pre-counting tally. I told you it was a strange solution – using machines to remove human intervention and using human intervention to validate the work of the machines.

    bidding – there is no way you can get around the need to bid these contracts out to corporations. unless you get some sort of GOCC to make the machines like India did.

    • cvj on October 7, 2006 at 8:48 pm

    comelecako, thanks for taking the time to respond as well. i’m all for further studying the alternative approaches and subjecting everything to rigorous criticism. Some responses to your points:

    precinct-level verifiability – the ACMs have the capability to automatically tabulate the markings at high speed but it bypasses the manual count. Given our environment where the credibility of our electoral process is not as it should be, i don’t see anything else besides a manual tabulation witnessed by the public to provide some form of assurance. I know the 1,991 ACMs may turn out to be cheaper than a DRE/ballot marker/ballot reader approach, but the cost savings is achieved at the expense of a key requirement. I’ve been in the IT field for some time now, and i’ve often seen requirements being scaled down because of cost, time and other practical considerations – a fair enough thing to do. However, what should not be done is to cut costs and still expect that the original requirements, in this case, speed + integrity, can still be met.

    phased implementation – perhaps you can also phase which part needs to be automated to get the right mix of investments. For example, in the cities with a bigger and more concentrated population, investment in equipment may probably be worth it to speed up the voting and counting process. In the hinterlands, with fewer people, the bulk of which are not used to GUI screens, maybe we can make do with a manual process (supplemented by those Indian EVM’s) and concentrate the investments on transmission and connectivity instead. The mix can be included in the above study.

    bidding – If the technology allows, i.e., it turns out that the DRE or whatever equipment can be made up of off the shelf components, then we can still go through the bidding process but instead of just one mega-bid going to a consortium, it could be multiple bids going to multiple vendors. (Incidentally, this is also a good way to pump-prime the economy as the wealth goes to the many instead of the few.) Alternative arrangements such as leasing and sponsorship can also be explored so that the government does not have to shoulder the entire capital investment.

    • UP student on October 7, 2006 at 8:53 pm

    cvj, One of the constituencies that will insist on voice-count precinct-level tally are the vote-buyers. This – voice-count — is one of their main ways of ensuring the integrity of their purchase.

    451,197 precincts…. nice project!!!

    • cvj on October 7, 2006 at 9:04 pm

    UP Student, then it’s ‘win-win’:-) A ‘precinct’ usually translates to half a classroom within a public school where the vote is usually held. At least two ‘precincts’ fit in one classroom. Still, i appreciate that it’s a public works task of a scale that would make Keynes proud, so it’s best done out in the open. Anyway, the process and the technology is simple enough so there is nothing that could not be explained to an interested public.

    • UP student on October 7, 2006 at 9:10 pm

    comelecAko, what is measured in the “15-minute per voter” metric? Is that how long a voter is engaged with a machine, or does it include all the processes inside the precinct?

    • UP student on October 7, 2006 at 9:20 pm

    cvj, you want the voting process to be such that the vote-buyer does not know if what he paid for is what the voter cast.

  15. that’s just the voter-machine interaction buddy.

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