Namfrel says poll cheating still possible

ABS-CBN News

The National Citizens' Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) Systems Group is not discounting the possibility that cheating can still happen during the automated polls.

Group member Fernando "JR" Contreras Jr. said indirect cheating can take place by way of trending in the transmission from the vote-counting machine (VCM) to the municipal level, where the votes are first consolidated.

"I’ll just delay the transmission of those which is not on my bailiwick, for example. Then the initial report will show that I’m leading," he said on ANC's Headstart on Wednesday.

Although altering the numbers in the VCM would be difficult, he stressed that the focus must be on the transmission and consolidation of votes.

He noted that in the past two automated elections, transmission was from the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS)—predecessor of the VCM—to the municipal consolidation and to the transparency server.

Should the transmission fail, the back-up was bringing the PCOS or the flash card to the municipal level where they would have the complete election returns (ER).

This year, the poll watchdog is asking the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to have a complete electronic copy of all ERs in order to do a separate tally and safeguard the credibility of the results.

"From the last two elections, the transmission rate from the PCOS or the VCM is going lower. So there are more failures from the actual precinct site to the transparency, to the municipal level," said Contreras.

"If we get completed ER at the municipal level, then everyone can do their own tabulation," he added.

He described the precinct sites as "retail." He said that like in manual polls, cheating happens in the "wholesale" side—the municipal level.

The voter receipts, he added, clears some apprehension on the voter's side "because the voter will see what supposedly he wrote down."

DATA LEAK

Aside the possibility of election cheating, Namfrel also warns that the public is exposed to many other risks due to the leaked voter data from the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Because of the leak, voters could receive marketing letters and calls because the voters' home addresses and contact numbers were exposed.

Contreras underscored the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas' appeal to banks for a more prudent alternate verification method.

But these pieces of information can also be used for election purposes.

"If I know your address, if I know you’re a supporter of a candidate, then I would do certain things to prevent you from going out [to vote, or] maybe coerce you somehow."

"I can threaten you right now by writing physical mails because I know your address," he added.

KNOW THE WHOLE STORY