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Computer Experts Warn of Sophisticated Dagdag Bawas with Automated Polls

Posted by lenolea on April 4, 2009


Who says automated elections will eliminate cheating?

An organization of computer experts in the country warned of possible automated large-scale cheating in the 2010 elections.

The Computer Professionals’ Union (CPU) said that the current automated election system (AES) is ‘vulnerable to insider manipulation, software engineering problems and remote or network attacks.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has chosen the optical mark reader (OMR) technology for the Automated Election System (AES) in 2010 elections. Under R.A. 9369, the Comelec is mandated to recommend the technology and choose a provider for the automated elections.

According to the CPU, the OMR system that would be used by the Comelec would require deploying 80,000 Precinct Counting Optical Sensor (PCOS) machines. The PCOS includes a computer system, an OMR device which will read ballots marked by the voter, and a networking device for data transmission. This will cost the Filipino people P11 billion ($229,789,011 at the current exchange rate of $1=P47.87).

“With insider access to the AES, vote manipulation can become more sophisticated,” the group said. “Dagdag-bawas (vote padding and vote shaving) or tampering can be made to appear mathematically consistent,” it explained.

In the manual elections, adding or subtracting to the results at the canvassing stage produces inconsistent totals when compared to the number of registered voters and actual votes cast. With the AES, the group explained, dagdag-bawas can now be made to appear consistent if direct manipulation to the data is made or by programming the system to reconcile the numbers.

“Insiders can overwrite the consolidated data with results favorable to certain candidates. In the manual elections, the coordinated manipulation of municipal/provincial canvass is limited by geographical factors. In the AES, tampering in the synchronized provincial canvass can now be done by just manipulating the consolidation servers at the municipal, provincial and national canvassing levels,” the group added. Full article

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