473 SDs to be used in polls corrupted — Comelec

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star
473 SDs to be used in polls corrupted � Comelec
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said 473 SD cards are being evaluated after they malfunctioned while undergoing the testing and sealing procedure to check the readiness of the VCMs.

MANILA, Philippines — Almost 500 Secure Digital (SD) cards to be used in Monday’s elections were found corrupted during the final testing and sealing (FTS) of the vote-counting machines (VCMs), an official of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said yesterday.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said 473 SD cards are being evaluated after they malfunctioned while undergoing the testing and sealing procedure to check the readiness of the VCMs. 

“We received reports of up to 473 cards corrupted. This is out of the 43,000 SD cards that are in play right now,” he said.

It is in SD cards that the encrypted scanned images of the ballots fed into the machines by voters are stored. 

Jimenez, however, gave assurance it should not be a cause for concern because contingency measures are in place, including the replacement of defective SD cards.

“This is actually the purpose of FTS – to see problems that may come up. It’s good that we are seeing this matter now,” he added.

Jimenez said they have replaced the corrupted SD cards. 

“We don’t issue new cards unless we get the corrupted ones in return. We don’t want SD cards to be out there in the wild,” Jimenez said.  

For her part, Sen. Nancy Binay warned the precinct finder of the Comelec could disenfranchise many first-time voters.

Binay said a majority of first-time voters are millennials who are not familiar with the manual or physical way of looking for their precincts.

For the past two national elections, Comelec’s online precinct finder used to be the fastest, easiest and most convenient way of checking where a voter’s precinct is located.

“Because the precinct finder website is down, there’s a big possibility that many first-time voters won’t be able to vote on Monday,” Binay warned.

The senator said not all voters have Twitter accounts, adding a clustered precinct may have thousands of first-time voters and not all of them have accounts in the social media platform.

Another option suggested by the Comelec is to personally visit local poll offices or schools to be used during the elections.

Binay said this alternative would meanwhile inconvenience the voters and add further tasks to these areas which are expected to be busy in the run-up to the polls.

“It would have been more efficient and convenient had the Comelec focused on producing a more secure online facility,” Binay said.

The National Privacy Commission (NPC) said it would look into cases of candidates providing voters in their respective localities with their voter’s precinct location information as assistance to the voters.

Privacy commissioner Raymund Liboro said a number of people or “data subjects” had expressed concern that candidates had also been handling their personal information in providing this precinct locator service.

“It has come to our attention that some individuals posted on social media about receiving from candidate/s a ‘precinct locator’ or ‘voter’s information’ card, printed with their personal data – name, complete residential address, date of birth, among others,” Liboro said.

“Concerns were raised over the possibility that these candidates may be processing voter personal data without authority,” he added.

Liboro said the NPC will determine whether election-related processing of personal data conforms with the standards of the Data Privacy Act of 2012 (DPA).

“Political parties and candidates, in their capacity as personal information controllers, should at all times uphold the data subject rights of voters and provide mechanisms for exercising rights. They have the obligation to ensure that all personal data processing related to any of their partisan political activities must satisfy the criteria for lawful processing as provided for in the DPA,” Liboro said. – With Paolo Romero, Rainier Allan Ronda

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