Wednesday, December 02, 2009



Questions Prepared by Pablo Manalastas
Fellow, Center for People Empowerment in Governance
December 1-3, 2009

SEC 1. Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) ...

In all cases, the Election Officer shall ensure that at least one (1) member of the BEI shall be an information technology-capable person as certified by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

QUESTION: Where will COMELEC/DOST get more than 80,000 IT capable persons? Will they be paid higher than the other members of the BEI?

SEC 5. Temporary vacancies in the BEI - If, at the time of the meeting of the BEI, any member is absent or a vacancy exists, the members present shall call upon a substitute from the list of public school teachers submitted by the DepEd to perform the duties of the absent member. If none is available, the members present shall appoint any qualified non-partisan registered voter of the precinct to temporarily fill said vacancy until the absent member appears. In case there are two members present, they shall act jointly.

QUESTION: What if the absent member is the IT capable person, and no qualified substitute can be found? Can the BEI continue its work without the IT capable person?

SEC 8. Minutes of voting and counting of votes (Minutes). - The BEI shall enter in the Minutes (A11), the act or data therein required as they occur or become available during voting, counting, and transmission of votes

QUESTION: What details must be placed in the Minutes? Some details are specified elsewhere in this document (GI), but are these details the only ones that need to be placed in the Minutes. Should there not be a document that gives ALL the details that must appear in the Minutes.

SEC. 10. Powers and functions of the BEf. - The BEI shall have the following powers and functions:

a) Conduct the voting in the polling place, electronically count the votes, print the election returns and transmit electronically the election results to the server for the City/Municipal Board of Canvassers, for dominant majority party, dominant minority party, accredited citizens' arm and KBP, and to the central server through the use of the PCOS machine;

QUESTION: Should the correct wording be: "Conduct the voting in the polling place, power on the PCOS machine and enable it to electronically count the votes, print the election returns and transmit electronically the election results to the server for the City/Municipal Board of Canvassers, for dominant majority party, dominant minority party, accredited citizens' arm and KBP, and to the central server".

SEC 10 (c) Maintain order within the polling place and its premises; keep access thereto open and unobstructed; and enforce obedience to its lawful orders. It shall prohibit the use of cellular phones and camera by the voters. If any person refuses to obey the lawful orders of the BEI or conducts himself in a disorderly manner in its presence or within its hearing and thereby interrupts or disturbs its proceedings, the BEI may issue an order in writing directing any peace officer to take said person into custody until the adjournment of the meeting, but such order shall not be executed as to prevent said person from voting. A copy of such written order (Annex *A') shall be attached to the Minutes;

QUESTION: Why prohibit the use of cellular phones and cameras by the voters? Almost all voters have cellular phones with cameras, so it is impractical to prevent 48 million voters from bringing their cellular phones to the precincts. What about the media and watchers from the political parties? Can't watchers use cellular phones and cameras?

SEC. 14. Honoraria of the BEI. - The chairman and members of the BEI shall each receive an honorarium of one thousand pesos (P1,000.00) per day but not to exceed three thousand pesos (P3,000.00). In addition, they shall be entitled to service credits for each day of service (Day before the elections, Election day and Day after Elections. Support Staff shall receive five hundred pesos (P 500.00) per day but not to exceed one thousand five hundred pesos (P1,500.00).

QUESTION: Will the BEI get honoraria on the days of training, and on the day of testing three days before elections? Will the BEI be in charge of watching the PCOS machines and the ballot boxes after testing until election day, and will they get paid for watching them?

SEC. 17. Rights and duties of watchers (of political parties) -

c) Take photographs of the proceedings and incidents, if any, during the voting, counting of votes, as well as of the generated election returns and ballot boxes;

QUESTION: So is this an exception to taking photographs by voters? Can watchers also use sound recorders? or video-sound recorders?

SEC. 17. d) File a protest against any irregularity or violation of law which they believe may have been committed by the BEI or by any of its members or by any person;

e) Obtain from the BEI a certificate as to the filing of such protest and the resolution thereof;

QUESTION: Where is the list of irregularities or violations of law (AES law) that the watchers can use as basis for protest? If the BEI helps a voter feed his ballot to the PCOS, is that a violation of law? If the BEI feeds the ballot instead of allowing the voter to feed the ballot himself, is that a violation of law?

SEC. 17. f) Be furnished, upon request, with a certificate of votes cast for the candidates, duly signed and thumb marked by the chairman and all members of the BEI.

QUESTION: Will this certificate be generated by the PCOS machine, or will the BEI manually copy this certificate from the print out of the precinct election return made by the PCOS machine? What if the BEI makes mistakes copying from the print out, which is a very likely possibility? Why not just allow the watchers to copy the CF card (back up made by the PCOS machine) using the watchers' own CF card readers?

SEC. 17. The watchers representing the dominant majority and dominant minority pafties fielding candidates shall, if available, affix their signatures and thumbmarks in the election returns.

QUESTION: Will they also digitally sign the internal copy of the precinct election return, which is the basis of canvassing at the higher levels? Who will provide them with CA-certified signing keys (private-public key pair)? Is not digital signing by BEI and watchers in accordance with the spirit and substance of RA-9369?

SEC. 18. Election forms, documents and supplies,

QUESTION: Where are the 50 pieces of felt-tip pens that the voters will use to mark their choices on the ballot? Where are the envelopes or pen holders for holding these felt-tip pens? I read the entire list, and did not see any mention of felt-tip pens.

SEC. 18. Election forms, documents and supplies,

A35 Certificate of Challenge or Protest and Decision of the BEI, 10 pcs
A39 Oath of Voter Challenqe for Illeqal Acts, 10 pcs
A40 Oath of Identification of Challenqed Voter, 10 pcs

QUESTION: Can the public see samples of these forms?

SEC. 21. Voting hours. - The casting of votes shall start at seven o'clock in the morning and shall end at six o'clock in the evening of election day.

If at six o'clock there are still voters within thirty (30) meters in front of the polling place who have not yet cast their votes, voting shall continue but only to allow said voters to cast their votes without interruption.

QUESTION: If the voters are queued up in front of the polling place waiting to feed their accomplished ballots into the PCOS machine, but some voters in the queue are standing in queue but beyond the 30 meters limit, will these voters be allowed to cast their votes?

SEC. 22. Place of voting, - Voters shall cast their votes in the polling place designated by the Commission. The Poster Indicating Precinct Number (A3) shall be prominently posted near or at the door of the polling place.

QUESTION: Will voters be assigned to precincts in the same school or basketball court or polling center where they were assigned to in the previous years? Do voters have to transfer to a different address to look for the new aggregated precinct assignments?

SEC. 24. Challenge against ittegal voters, - Any voter or watcher may challenge any person offering to vote for:
a) Not being registered;
b) Using the name of another; or
c) Suffering from an existing disqualification.
In such case, the BEI shall satisfy itself as to whether or not the ground for the challenge is true by requiring proof of registration, identity or qualification. The BEI shall identify the voter through his photograph, fingerprint, or specimen signatures in the VRR or EDCVL. In the absence of any of the above-mentioned proof of identity, any member of the BEI may identify under oath a voter, and such act shall be reflected in the Minutes.

QUESTION: Will the BEI be given training to match voter fingerprint with the fingerprint on record? Does this not require expert training? Or will they be provided fingerprint matching computers to help them do a computerized matching of fingerprints, instead?

SEC. 27. Rules to be obserued during the voting. - During the voting, the BEI shall see to it that:
a) Voters shall vote in the order of their arrival in the polling place;

QUESTION: What does the term "voters shall vote in the order of their arrival" mean exactly? Does this mean they will be given a ballot and allowed to accomplish their ballot in the order of arrival, and then after successfully filling out their ballots, they will be allowed to queue up to feed their ballots into the PCOS machine in the order that they finish accomplishing their ballots? Or does this mean that they will be allowed to queue to feed their accomplished ballots to the PCOS machine in the order of arrival?

SEC. 27. c) No person carrying any firearm or any other deadly weapon, except those expressly authorized by the Commission, shall enter the polling place;

QUESTION: Are pointed metallic objects that are not allowed when checking into local and international airports part of the list of deadly weapons? Is a three-inch Swiss army knife a deadly weapon. Are nail clippers, or small scissors, or small twissors considered deadly weapons?

SEC. 27. e) The ballot box shall remain locked during voting.

QUESTION: What if the PCOS machine jams or otherwise malfunctions, so that computerized elections can not continue, will the ballot box be opened so that voters can deposit their ballots into the open ballot box, in preparation for manual counting? How will computer-less manual counting be done?

SEC. 28. Voter Verifiability of His Choices (Not in the General Instructions).

QUESTION: Will the voter be allowed to verify how the PCOS machine appreciated his ballot? Will the PCOS machine show on the LCD touch screen or print on the paper-tape printout a listing of the candidates which the PCOS interpreted as his vote marks (50% or greater shading)? Will the PCOS machine give the voter the choice to agree or disagree with the PCOS appreciation of his vote marks on the ballot?

SEC. 28. Persons allowed inside the polling place. - Only the following persons shall be allowed inside the polling place:

e) Voters casting their votes;
f) Voters waiting for their turn to cast their vote;

QUESTION: Voters cast their votes in several steps: (1) BEI examines their voters list and on finding the voter's name, does the usual recording of the voter and hands the ballot and felt-tip pen to the voter, (2) Voter goes to secrecy desk to accomplish his ballot (this takes the longest time), (3) Voter queues up to feed his ballot into the PCOS machine.

Will the voter be inside the polling place during all these three steps?

SEC. 28. (Continued) However, the BEI may, by a majority vote, if it deems necessary, order in writing the detail of a policeman or any peace officer for its protection or for the protection of the election documents and paraphernalia. Such order shall be entered in the Minutes. Said policeman or peace officer shall stay outside the polling place near enough to be easily called by the BEI at anytime. In no case shall the said policeman or peace officer hold any conversation with any voter or disturb or prevent or in any manner obstruct the free access of the voters to the polling place.

QUESTION: How will the BEI give the written order to the policeman, when the BEI can not leave their post, and the policemen are not allowed to stay within 50 meters of the polling place? Will the BEI have the mobile numbers of the Police Department? or of individual policemen? Will the policeman, so ordered to give protection, be given a seat outside the door of the precinct, from which location he can religiously perform his duty to watch the voting and secure the peace? Exactly what actions can the policeman do? Will all police officers be required to read these General Instructions so that they are aware of the limits of their powers?

SEC. 30. Preparation of ballots for illiterate and person with
disability/disabled voters.

No person may assist an illiterate or person with disability/disabled voter more than three (3) times, except the members of the BEI.

QUESTION: How do you count the number of times an assistor helps a voter with disability, or am I misreading this provision? Does this provision mean "no assistor may help more than three disabled persons"?

SEC. 33. Testing and Sealing of PCOS - At least three (3) days before the May 10, 2010 National and Local Elections, after due notice by the EO to all parties concerned, the BEI shall meet at the polling place to test and seal the PCOS to be used on election day,

QUESTION: What if, during the testing, the BEI discover that the wrong PCOS machine has been delivered to the precinct? Is there a way for the BEI to determine if the PCOS computer is the correct one for the precinct?

SEC. 33. Testing and Sealing of PCOS - using the following guidelines:

8. The BEI shall compare the results of the manually-prepared ER with that of the machine-generated ER.

10. If the results of both ERs are not the same, the BEI shall determine the cause of the discrepancy and undertake the necessary measures to rectify the same.

QUESTION: Are the BEIs given training to determine the cause of the discrepancy and undertake the necessary measures to rectify the same? Does this not require technical expertise which the BEI might not yet have?

SEC. 33. (Continued)
11.The BEI shall then:
a. Seal the following parts of the PCOS (etc)
b. Lock and seal the ballot box;
c. Wrap the PCOS with shrink wrap; and
d. Allow the public to secure the polling places where the counting machines are installed.

QUESTION: Is the public the correct entity to secure the polling places where the counting machines are installed? Will the PCOS machine and ballot box be bolted to the floor or bolted to some permanent immovable fixture in the room/precinct? What if someone steals the PCOS machine and ballot box? Will the BEI be responsible? Will COMELEC pay the BEI to be responsible? Is the army or police the correct entity to secure the polling places where the counting machines are installed?

SEC. 34. Preliminaries to the voting -

2) Count the ballots manually, enter in the Minutes the number of ballots; and the fact that the package of ballots and the book of voters were shown to the public with the seals intact.

QUESTIONS: (1) What if the BEI notice that the wrong ballots were delivered to his/her precinct? The BEI will see the ballots only on election day itself, so can not check beforehand if the correct ballots were delivered to his precinct. (2) What if the ballots are the correct one for the precinct, but the number of ballots is less than the number of voters in the precinct? What if the number of ballots is more than the number of voters?

SEC. 34. 3) Remove the shrink wrap cover of the PCOS and show that the seals of the memory slot, transmission port and printer cover are intact. Record in the Minutes such fact and thereafter break the seal of the printer cover. The transmission port and memory card slot shall remain sealed during the voting.

QUESTION: What if any of the seals is broken? Will the BEI ask for a new PCOS machine, and redo the testing done three days earlier, using the new PCOS machine?

SEC 34. 8) The IT-capable member of the BEI (Operator) shall select "START" from the Main Menu. The geographic assignment (province, city/municipality, barangay, polling center and cluster precinct) of the PCOS will then be displayed on the screen. The Operator shall press the *INITIALITE VOTE COUNTERS" option of the PCOS,

QUESTION: What if the any of the geographical assignment of the PCOS is wrong, indicating that the PCOS machine was switched during storage? Will the BEI ask for a new PCOS machine, test it, and use it for the day?

SEC. 35. Manner of obtaining ballots. - The voter shall approach the support staff in-charge of the precinct, give his name, address, together with the other data concerning his person

The support staff shall verify if the name of the voter is in the PCVL. If the name of the voter is in the PCVL, his identity shall then be established through his photograph or specimen signatures in the Voter's Registration Record, unless he is identified under oath by any member of the BEI.

QUESTION: WHat if the voter has a valid registration as proven by his voter's ID, but his name is not in the PCVL? Will the voter be disenfranchised?

SEC. 36. Manner of voting. Voting shall be conducted in the following manner:

a) The voter shall, using a ballot secrecy folder and the marking pen provided by the COMELEC, fill his ballot by shading completely the oval beside the names of the candidates of his choice.


(1) Recently, the COMELEC announced that it will allow 50% shading as indication of a vote. Since the voter is not a computer, he can not really tell if his shading is 50% or more, since he is just using his naked eye, and for him, what might be 50% may actually be only 47-49% shading for the computer. The same reasong holds if the COMELEC requires 100% full shade. I suggest that if COMELEC decides to use 50% shading, that any shading greater than 40% be considered as 50% or more shading. The 40% may actually not be enough, but that is better than requiring exactly 50% or more.

(2) If the voter discovers while filling up his ballot that he overvoted for the position of senator, or provincial board, or municipal council, or for any other position, why can't he use a dry corrector tape to cover one of his shadings, or maybe cut out one of his ovals, in order to reduce the number of votes to the correct number.

SEC. 37. Rejected ballots procedure - Ballots may be rejected by the PCOS during the scanning. In the event of rejected ballot, the PCOS shall deposit the ballot into the rejected ballot cnmpartment of the ballot box. The voter shall not be issued with a replacement ballot.

QUESTION: Is it possible for a duly registered voter, voting in his assigned precinct, and using a ballot issued by the authorized BEI, is it possible for such registered voter to have his ballot rejected as invalid? Is the invalid ballot algorithm of the PCOS machine tested to be 100% foolproof? What assurance does the voter have that he will not be disenfranchised because of a legitimate ballot appreciated as invalid ballot?

SEC. 39. Counting of ballots and transmission of results; Procedure,

a) At the end of voting and before the start of counting of votes, the procedure of validating the ibutton security key and PINs stated in Section 32, no.4 herein shall be performed.

QUESTION: There is no Section 32 no. 4 in this document (GI).

QUESTION: Preparatory to transmission of the internal copy of the precinct election return (ER) to the municipal CCS computer and to the national COMELEC CCS computer, the BEI is required by law (RA-9369) to digitally sign the said internal copy of the precinct ER. From Smartmatic's Financial Proposal to COMELEC, it is evident that Smartmatic will generate all the private-public key pairs (signing keys) to be used by all BEI for digital signing of all the ERs. These signing keys will be issued to the BEI by Smartmatic on election day itself, and will be issued to the BEI by position and not to the BEI by name. That is, whoever reports as BEI chairman of Precinct 0559A of Mayamot, Antipolo, will be issued the signing keys of the chairman. The standard for CA-certified public keys (X.509 standard) is to issue the signing keys to named persons and not to positions. The question is: since the BEI will be using signing keys that belong to Smartmatic, does signing the ER with these keys constitute digital signing by Smartmatic and not by the BEI personnel? Is this not, therefore, a violation of law?

SEC. 39. (Continued) Before opening the "Close Voting" option in the main menu, the operator shall remove the seal in the transmission port of the PCOS to connect the transmission cable (cellular modem) into the transmission port.

QUESTION: Since only one cellular modem will be used by all PCOS machines in the polling center, before the BEI can attach the cellular modem to his PCOS machine, he has to wait for the BEI of the PCOS machine which is assigned to use the cellular modem first, he has to wait for this BEI to finish transmitting first, before he can take possession of the modem for use in his precinct. (1) Is the order of use of the one cellular modem by all PCOS machines in the polling place determined at random? (2) What if there is failure of transmission because of lack of cellular signal, as happens during times of peak usage? (3) How long must the BEI wait before he can declare a failure of transmission?

SEC. 41. Shutting Down of the PCOS. - After printing of all reports and transmission of precinct results to all destinations, the following steps shall be undeftaken:
a) In the main menu/ the Operator shall press the SHUTDOWN option;
b) ...
c) ...
d) The PCOS shall automatically shutdown.

QUESTION: When will the back up CF card be made? Will a back up be made? Can the watchers copy this back up CF card using card readers that they themselves provide?

1 comment:

eian101 said...

Permanent b na trabaho makukuha pag natanggap k dun? at paano maging DOST certified?