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Comelec maps out plan for 100% transmission of votes

Posted on: February 12, 2010

Comelec maps out plan for 100% transmission of votes

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 12:08:00 02/12/2010

Filed Under: Eleksyon 2010, Politics, Elections

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is set to map out plans for ensuring 100 percent electronic transmission of voting results from polling precincts to canvassing centers and Comelec servers in the May national elections, an official said.

Renato Garcia, Comelec Advisory Council member and Ateneo de Manila University professor, told INQUIRER.net Friday that Comelec has deputized the National Telecommunications Commission to instruct all private telecommunications services to create a secure network that would prevent tampering or hacking of election results while these were being transmitted to city, municipal, provincial, and national board of canvassers.

Under the automation plan, precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines will be used for voting, counting, canvassing, and transmission of results from polling stations using public telcos to Comelec servers.

“By using a private network to transmit the digital format of Election Returns which would be transmitted after the close of polls on May 10 at 6p.m., Comelec is the only entity to have access with the data and the encryption codes before and after the transmission of data,” said Garcia.

Based on previous talks, the telecommunications providers such as the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. and Globe are also mandated to give preference to and effect the immediate transmission of the voting results using mainly general packet radio service (GPRS) technology, DSL, mobile satellite, and other network technologies, said Garcia.

“Transmission is one of the very crucial stage of the automation system because it would speedup the canvassing of results from months to hours and Comelec together with the telcos are expected to come up with the continuity plans to ensure continuous transmission of results and a network security plan,” said Garcia.

Garcia allayed fears that there would be failure in transmission since each computerized ER would have an approximate size of 60 to 120 kilobytes or comparable to one multimedia messaging service sent via mobile phone, and requires only a few seconds to transmit, Garcia said.

Garcia added Comelec has been taking steps to protect the system amid reports that 5,000 units of cell phone jammers have been brought into the country.

Garcia said that Smartmatic-Total Information Management has been tasked to provide mobile satellite units for the polling precincts as alternative transmission technology if cellular technologies would encounter a problem.

Smartmatic-TIM announced it has assembled all the 82,200 PCOS machines needed in May, including the 25,000 ready for shipment from their Qisdi facility in China to the Comelec. Ballot boxes are expected to arrive in the country between mid-March and April.

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