Comelec: PCOS to have more ‘security features’

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Comelec: PCOS to have more ‘security features’

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The vote counting machines (VCMs) to be used in the May 9 elections would have more security features.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) through Atty Eliseo Labaria, Bohol election supervisor bared this at the recent Kapihan sa PIA in Bohol.

He said the VCMs or more officially called the Precinct Count Optical Scanner (PCOS) which would be used could be newer and with more security features.

The PCOS has been by law, embedded with four security features to assure voters that their votes are exactly the same in the data sent out to election servers at the COMELEC central servers, as mandated by Republic Act (RA) 939 or the Automated Elections Law.

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Over this, Labaria said the COMELEC is set to put up roadshows on the PCOS, to get people into a better understanding of its operations.

These roadshows may also be the poll body’s venue to consult election stakeholders on the pros and cons of the safety features of the counting machines and its potential reactivation.

We will explain [all of] that once we showcase the machine,” COMELEC said.

Filipinos are not new to PCOS machines, but while these were used in the 2010 and 2013 polls, the COMELEC reportedly deactivated some of the security features.

These security features include the ballot verification using ultra violet detectors, a source code review by an independent audit company, the digital signature in the transmittal and the voter verified paper audit trail.

There were also no details of which of these were deactivated, and which ones were active.

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But, reports earlier quoted COMELEC chairman Andres Bautista saying that they might re-activate three of the four security features.

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The COMELEC has earlier allowed the opening of the source code by an independent company, last December, all to make sure that the codes act as they have been programmed.

It may be recalled that in 2013 elections, the source code became a butt of controversy as the code review was done hastily, 6 days before the polls.

The source code is basically an independent auditor to ensure that the system is running free from possible malicious lines or malware designed to manipulate the results of elections, explains the COMELEC.

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As to the digital signature, Bautista was also quoted as saying “they were looking to introduce human signatures.

It would “not just one but three signatures of Board of Election Inspectors (BEI)”, he was quoted even as the Supreme Court has already ruled that a machine signature will do.

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In Bohol, Labaria said a training for trainors on the PCOS is slated soon, and the COMELEC is set to call the BEIs for this.

“We need to get them to know the PCOS better, the Bohol poll supervisor stressed.

He said a mock election would also happen in test areas, while a simultaneous testing of the PCOS could happen between May 2-6. (rac/PIA-7/Bohol) 

 

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