Comelec preps for impending Senate probe 

Teachers celebrate on Monday, May 21 after handing over ballot boxes containing election returns from Compostela Valley and Davao City to the Commission on Elections sitting as the National Board of Canvassers at the PICC in Pasay City, exactly a week after the midterm elections. | photo by Grig Montegrande

Following the proclamation of winners, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is set to face a Senate investigation on the technical glitches reported during the recent midterm polls.

Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas said on Thursday, May 23, that the commission will have a post-election assessment in preparation for the Senate investigation. However, he maintained that the polls were credible and successful. 

“We will just rest for a while and then we will prepare to answer those issues before the Senate. We want to assess where we had problems and what would be our proposals for 2022,” Abas said.

Despite the reports of defective secure digital (SD) cards and vote counting machines (VCMs), the Comelec chair remained confident that they can “clear the air” once they were questioned by the legislators. 

“To us, we cannot just focus on the two percent that malfunctioned. We will also look at the 98% that were successful. We cannot just place all our resources on the ones malfunctioning. The bottom line for us is there was no cheating,” Abas added. 

Nearly 2,000 SD cards were reported to be defective, while around 1,000 vote counting machines (VCMs) were also ruled defective. The Comelec system also experienced a seven-hour data blackout during the initial transmission of votes right after the polls closed last May 13. 

Sen. Koko Pimentel earlier announced that the joint congressional oversight committee on the automated elections system would conduct a hearing on the technical glitches that occurred during the midterm elections.

Comelec has admitted that the number of VCMs that bogged down tripled in this year’s vote compared to the 2016 polls.

Abas said the glitches should not be taken as proof of irregularities in the elections. 

NAMFREL to Comelec: Reveal central server for transparency 

The existence of a ‘meet-me-room’ was explained in an ANC interview with National Citizens Movement for Free Elections’ (NAMFREL) Gus Lagman. According to Lagman, the votes were transmitted to the said room before being transferred to different servers. 

“There’s this ‘meet-me-room,’ the VCMs or the vote-counting machines transmit to the meet-me-room, the meet-me room then transmits to the different servers, to the Comelec server, the media server, the transparency server. So they’re doing it differently from what the law says,” Lagman said. 

“It’s not in the law. The law says you have to transmit directly to the Comelec server, the citizens’ arm, and media. That’s what the law says,” he added as reported by ABS-CBN News. 

The poll commission denied the existence of a separate server, stating that there was only a router to make sure data coming from the vote-counting machines (VCM) will flow smoothly into the transparency server.

Lagman then challenged the Comelec to reveal the central server to prove to the public that the 2019 midterm elections were credible and transparent. 

“They think of security by keeping it obscure from the public. But there’s also the opposite of that. It becomes secure when everybody knows what it is is. Because everybody knows how it’s supposed to be done, then you can’t change it,” he added. 

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