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Comelec installs features to protect 2019 pollsâ integrity
The improvements were based on independent and internal audits as well as external reviews of private IT experts, Comelec Commissioner Marlon Casquejo and executive director Jose Tolentino said during the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the Automated Election System (JCOC-AES).
Cesar Ramirez

Comelec installs features to protect 2019 polls’ integrity

Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - September 14, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has put 82 enhancements in the automated polls to be used in next year’s senatorial and local elections to further ensure integrity and accuracy, officials said yesterday.

The improvements were based on independent and internal audits as well as external reviews of private IT experts, Comelec Commissioner Marlon Casquejo and executive director Jose Tolentino said during the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the Automated Election System (JCOC-AES).

The JCOC-AES, chaired by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III and CIBAC party-list Rep. Sherwin Tugna, held its periodic review of the election system amid allegations of fraud in the 2016 elections.

“This is a welcome development... I just hope the Comelec would continue making improvements and learn its lessons from the previous elections,” Pimentel told reporters after the deliberations at the Senate.

Pimentel and Tugna suggested to the Comelec to see if they could add more security features recommended by IT experts present during the hearing.

Among the improvements in the 2019 elections are making the ballot ovals thicker, generating raw data from precinct results, vote counting machines (VCMs) will automatically print statistics reports after the close of voting hours as well as other measures to make it easier for the public to monitor the results of the polls.

Tolentino said the panel of independent IT experts and international certification entity (ICE), along with Comelec representatives, would soon start its review of the source code of the software to be used by voting technology services provider Smartmatic Philippines.

The source code review is expected to end in December, Tolentino said.

Tolentino also told the panel that the 97,500 VCMs the Comelec purchased from Smartmatic after the 2016 elections have passed the hardware tests. The VCMs will be tested again by ICE in January next year, this time running with the election software.

He said the Comelec also approved Smartmatic’s bid to be the transmission provider for the 2019 elections as part of the firm’s “total solutions” package.

Smartmatic will be mobilizing Smart, Globe, PLDT and other satellite service providers in handling the transmission of data from the precincts to the Comelec.

 Voter registration won’t be extended 

The registration of voters for next year’s midterm polls will not be extended, the Comelec announced yesterday.

James Jimenez, spokesman for the Comelec, said the poll body would not likely extend voter registration beyond the Sept. 29 deadline.

He said the commission has yet to decide on the request of lawmakers to extend the voter registration period.

The Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives earlier called on the Comelec to extend voter registration to Jan. 13 next year.

According to Jimenez, the calendar of activities for the May 2019 polls is being reviewed after the commission moved the deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) to Oct. 11-17.

The Comelec also reminded Filipinos abroad that they have only until Saturday to have their records of registration transferred.   –  With Mayen Jaymalin

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