Critic warns of poll cheating

But Comelec insists system secure

A critic of the precinct count optical scan machines that will be used by the Commission on Elections in next year’s polls warned that high-tech cheating may occur due to compact flash card snatching.

Gus Lagman, also an official of Automated Election System Watch, said Thursday that this would be easier because CF cards would easily fit into one’s pocket. Ballot boxes would be more difficult to snatch.

“Of course we suspect that in 2013, many substitutions happened,” Lagman said.

But Comelec spokesman James Jimenez rejected Lagman’s claim, stressing that each CF card installed in more than 93,000 Optical Mark Reader machines contains high-quality security features.

While he said CF card snatching may be possible, tampered cards would not be accepted by the PCOS machines.

“Every time it was done, it was under guard, there were watchdogs and the transfers were basically secure,” he said, citing the experience in the previous poll.

Jimenez said that when one congresswoman tried to use a tampered CF card, “on the outward appearances, it still looked authentic, but when the CF card was inserted to the machine, the PCOS unit failed to read the data.”

“That’s the ultimate security,” he said.

The Comelec spokesman also said that each machine contains two CF cards—one original and one back-up.

Smartmatic-Total Information Management manufactured and provided some 81,000 PCOS machines to the Comelec in 2010.

It is also the winning bidder to lease more than 93,000 optical mark reader units to be used for the presidential elections in 2016.

Lagman proposes a semi-automated elections, urging the Comelec to use the Precinct Automated Tallying System. With this, according to Lagman, voting will be done manually, with voters writing the name or assigned number of their chosen candidate.

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