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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Philippine Automated Election System for May 2010

Yesterday, I attended a private demonstration of the Automated Election System(AES) for the May 2010 election. The event was organized by The Asia Foundation in cooperation with Smartmatic.

Voters Perspective

The AES at its core is still a paper-based election which is not that different from the previous national elections. The paper ballot, which in past elections require voters to write the names of their chosen candidates, now only requires them to SHADE the ovals next to the names of their chosen candidates.

  • You must shade only one oval per position unless otherwise stated.
  • If you shade more than the stated number of ovals for a certain position, you ballot will NOT be counted for that particular position.
Steps to Vote:
1) Prepare your personal list of candidates to vote for before going to the voting precinct.

2) When you get to the precinct, register with the election officials and get your ballot

3) Check that the ballot is unused making sure that no ovals have been shaded

4) Sit down and proceed to shading the ovals next to the names of your chosen candidates. You will be asked to use markers with indelible ink so you can not make a mistake. You are only allotted ONE ballot so take your time.

5) When its your turn to use the voting machine, take note of the number of votes that the machine has recorded before feeding your ballot into it. Wait for the machine to confirm that your vote has been recorded. Take note that the number of votes that the machine has recorded should increase by one. If something goes wrong, bring it to the attention of election officials

I think this is as far as one needs to know with regards to voting.

The next section which I will update shortly will describe the things that SHOULD happen before voting opens and after voting opens as well as the security features of the system.

About the machine 
  • The final firmware is reviewed and certified by all concerned parties 
  • The machines are loaded with firmware in the presence of representatives from concerned parties to make sure that the firmware loaded is the one that was certified 
  • The machines are tested and sealed with 10 test ballots each.
  • The package is then sent to the precinct. It should be in the precincts on the day before the election at the latest. 
  • At the appropriate time, the election officials for each precinct will open the package together with concerned parties and test the machine using the test ballots. 
  • Each machine is configured specifically for a precinct.
  • Each machine is configured only to record and count the votes up to the number of registered voters for the particular precinct where it will be used.
  • Each machine is configured to only accept ballots for the precinct where it will be used.
  • When the election is opened, the machine will print out copies of its totals for the review of the election officials as well as other concerned parties. The print out should indicate zero votes have been counted.
  • The machine is not connected to any network during election
  • When the election is closed, the machine will print out 8 copies of the Election Returns for audit purposes. A modem is then connected which will allow the machine to transmit the election returns to pre-configured servers. After transmission, the machine is disconnected from the network and prints out 22 copies of the election returns for audit purposes by concerned parties
 About the ballots
  • Each ballot can be uniquely identified and has both visible and invisible ultraviolet prints as an additional security measure
  • Each precinct will be allocated a number of ballots exactly equal to the number of registered voters for the particular precinct
  • When the election is closed, unused ballots should be torn in half and placed inside the ballot boxes 

About data transmission
  • The machine will transmit the election returns to three servers: municipal server, comelec backup server and a server for use by the media and other concerned parties

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