FTS Diaries: From ‘minor’ to major, major glitches

ImageToday officially marks the end of the final testing and sealing (FTS) of the PCOS machines to be used come election day on Monday.  However, the trend is still the same: the automated election is still haunted with glitches left and right. Put simply, we are not yet prepared for the upcoming 2013 automated elections.

COMELEC Chairman Sixto Brillantes firmly believes otherwise. In almost all of his interviews, Brillantes has been very vocal and stern in his stand that all glitches encountered during the final testing and sealing of PCOS machines are just ‘minor’. He was even quoted once, saying that these ‘minor’ glitches will never affect the votes.ever mind the fact that he never bothered to qualify what ‘minor’ and ‘major’ glitches are. Does he mean that 10 or 10,000 votes not counted correctly doesn’t really matter, and does he really expect Filipinos to surrender to a higher power for clean elections just because the concerned authorities refuse to act upon the situation at hand? The truth is: they could’ve addressed these problems early on, but they didn’t.

In an interview, UP Professor Winnie Monsod and a representative from Kontra Daya raised the same question of efficiency. How can we determine if a glitch is either ‘minor’ or ‘major’? If the machine rejects the ballot after several tries despite being shaded properly, is this a major or just merely a minor glitch? What if the machine counted ballots marked with ‘X’ or the ballots with over-vote? How about when the thermal paper malfunctions or, God forbid, the machine itself is not working? When we fail to review the source code, would he consider this a shortcoming at all?

Using Chairman Brillante’s premise that a ‘minor’ glitch does not affect the votes, then all the aforementioned circumstances are ‘major’ glitches because every single vote can turn the tide in an election. If the machine rejects the ballots after multiple tries, then the votes will not be counted. If the machine counted the ballots marked with ‘X’ or the ballots with over-vote, then such count will not be accurate. If the thermal paper or the machine, itself, is not working, then the votes will not be counted and will never be transmitted. Lastly, it is very apparent that failure to review the source code and verify if it will be, indeed, the same source code installed in the PCOS machine all over the country is a major glitch.

Despite well-meaning criticisms and warning, they turn a blind eye to these supposed ‘minor’ glitches, which does not even diminish the threat of its transformation into a ‘major, major’ glitch in the upcoming 2013 elections.

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