Smartmatic's US case stalls source code review, Brillantes nixes manual voting

InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines - The pending case against Venezuela-based Smartmatic filed by Canadian-based Dominion in Delaware has stalled the release of the original copy of the source code, the subject of a review by local party and interest groups as mandated by law. Still, Comelec ruled out having a manual voting system in place as contingency should Smartmatic’s ¬†PCOS machines fail, as suggested by anti-fraud watchdogs.

Commission on Elections Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr., said Friday that local lawyers of Dominion are still waiting for the decision from the US court before giving the original source code, to make sure that “whatever they agree here will not affect cases in Delaware. "There is no development yet, it is being discussed in Delaware, they’re still clearing up things; our issue is how it will affect the pending case in Delaware. Everybody on both sides would like to make sure that whatever we upon agree here [in the Philippine setting] will
not affect the cases in Delaware,” Brillantes said.

Brillantes said he doesn’t know what is now happening in Delaware, where Dominion Voting System sued Smartmatic in connection with the source code.

The case has alarmed election experts in the Philippines, who worry that the Comelec may have entered into a contract with a supplier (Smartmatic) that is barred from using software it does not own. The source code review mandated by law has been affected as a result of
the lawsuit, and poll watchdogs have been breathing down Comelec’s neck as a result.

The US case started when Dominion, which provides the source code (a text listing of commands compiled or assembled into an executable computer program) for the voting software used by Smartmatic in the voting machines it sells worldwide, terminated its contract with the Venezuelan company in May 2012.

Pending resolution of the case, Brillantes said he decided to step in and talk with Dominion officials, who he said will come over to the country "to help us solve the problem."

He added,"I hope in two weeks we will solve the problem, and announce it to the public. But even if Dominion does not agree [to resolve], we have prepared legal arguments [to say] that we can proceed with the automated elections regardless of the squabble between Smartmatic and Dominion," the Comelec chairman said.

Defective PCOS parts replaced

Meanwhile, Brillantes said the testing in the assembly and production of the PCOS machine is still ongoing in order to make that defective parts replaced.

“We are in the assembly production, we are still checking many items---not just the PCOS machine, but also other parts; we need to find out those that require replacement. For example, we noted an adaptor that easily became moist, and that will affect the process, so
we replaced that,” explained Brillantes, speaking in Filipino.

Brillantes also rejected the suggestion to have the Commission on Audit (COA) conduct a technical audit on all PCOS machines to ensure the integrity and credibility of the system.

Brillantes rejects manual counting, pre-election expense audit

Meanwhile, Brillantes rejected the proposed manual count, proposed by the watchdog Kontra-Daya, as contingency should the PCOS machines fail.

He also rejected the conduct of a pre-election audit, suggested by the National Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL), with the hiring of certified public accountants (CPAs) to examine and monitor pre-election campaign expenses of parties and candidates.

In rejecting manual counting, Brillantes said the poll body has all the contingency plans covering technical, security and operational matters to ensure clean and orderly elections on May 13..

Last Thursday, Kontra Daya wrote Brillantes asking the poll body to draw up a contingency plan for manual counting in the event the PCOS machines fail, as a worst-case scenario. It cited the observations made by non-government experts that multiple vulnerabilities and
problems have been exposed in the automated election system (AES).

“We have a contingency but we’re not shouting to the world about it. Everything they’re suggesting, we have that. What is this? Are we seen as so weak that everything we do, we don’t seem to have our own fallback systems? Do they know more about this than we do? Why don’t they run the elections?” an apparently piqued chairman blurted out in
Filipino.

Meanwhile, Brillantes also junked the proposal by NAMFREL to hire CPAs to help the poll body in checking and monitoring pre-election campaign expenses.

“That would have been a good idea, but it will take up so much of our time and effort. The law requires the post-election submission of campaign receipts and expenses. As it is, we’re already having problems dealing with the post-election audit, so why complicate things and impose that burden [pre-election audit] on us?” Brillantes
said.

 

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