Filipino IT professional questions credibility of the recent automated elections
Posted by akosistella on May 15, 2010
THIS was posted in the comments section of one of the news items Namfrel: Some PCOS machines failed accuracy test. I thought it should be posted as a blog entry instead (slightly edited only for readability). While we don’t post anonymous letters as a rule, I think I should make an exception in this case because he makes very valid points. We welcome other IT experts to give their views on the issue:
Open Letter to the Filipino People
Dear Sir / Ma’am,
Sa kakatapos lang po na election, while everyone is stunned and amazed of speedy results of election (proclamation dito and doon) but in my side po I would like to bring up a concern in behalf of the Filipino people, both na nasa pinas and overseas na katulad ko.
Ako po ay isang IT professional who has been working abroad and as a person po na may general knowledge specially in software development I believe po na it’s my responsibility to share with the general public yung concern ko po especially pag-handle ng automation ng election sa pinas.
In short po I would like to question the credibility ng katatapos na election.
Source Code Review – Last year po I’ve been waiting for news regarding the source code to be made available for review sa mga intrested party “volunteers group”. The process would involve groups of individuals consisting of IT professionals and analysts who would be able to review the source code for the elections. It is to ensure and verify that the system does not contain to have any malicious code, technical bug or back-door inserted in the code.
Instead they outsourced the job to Systest Labs, a U.S.-based company contracted by Comelec to conduct the source code review.
Dahil po doon sa pag outsource, Government and its people lostimportant representation of awareness sa integrity and credibility ng software and machine na ginamit during election.
The problems spikes up even more suspicion when the system fails during last minute testing, and even worst SMARTMATIC claims defective MEMORY CARDS?
I think only people with no common knowledge in programming would agree with their explanation. From my point of view the real issue is the software itself used in the system that was programmed in the MEMORY CARDS.
SMARTMATIC had last minutes patches on their software to correct the bugs few days before the election. Does that mean Systest Labs failed to verified and test the software?
Its obvious that SMARTMATIC also failed to manage properly the development of the software, which resulted to:
– delayed Election Returns (ERs), malfunctioning, missing or otherwise questionable memory cards, and other indicators of potential or emerging problems.
– despite the success terms of majority, I think something had been overlooked and the possibility of cheating exists! They said it’s impossible but is it really?
I think on the process also, yung pagpalit with replacement memory cards and re-programming ng software would mean that the source code used in the review was recompiled and it’s not certain whether it was the same source code used in the election?
Although the reason why we go for automation is to lessen the possibility of cheating and speed up electoral process, does it really mean the system they have developed won’t be able to make mistakes or bog down during the election period? Even the above issue I can simply conclude the machine did work but doesn’t have credibility. And it’s possible to have a huge margin of error during counts dahil testing was mostly done on few sample ballots but hindi tested in actual or close to actual no. of ballots in every pricinto.
For sensitive software like PCOS, the system should be less than 1% margin of error especially on tallying for us to make it credible.
After the problems I mentioned during the past election who is to blame? I think someone should be blamed.
I sincerely hope that people, groups and places would be allowed to do re-counting of ballots if they think they got some issues with the tally. It is not people’s fault, it’s someone else fault =) and those people above should be the one to blame =)
Filipino IT Prof