Poll watchdog to Comelec: Blacklist Smartmatic

Michael Bueza
Poll watchdog to Comelec: Blacklist Smartmatic
The Citizens for Clean and Credible Elections makes the plea in its formal petition before the Commission on Elections, citing Smartmatic's alleged misrepresentation and violation of election laws

MANILA, Philippines – Smartmatic, the supplier of automated election technology in the country’s last two elections, is “merely a reseller” and should be banned in participating in future election-related projects, a poll watchdog said.

The Citizens for Clean and Credible Elections (C3E) on Monday, November 24, formally filed a 34-page petition before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to blacklist Smartmatic from future election projects for at least two years due to alleged “misrepresentation and numerous violation of election laws.”

Smartmatic is among the firms that expressed interest to participate in the public bidding for the lease of additional voting machines for the 2016 national elections. The Comelec earlier said that it sees no reason to ban Smartmatic from the bidding.

In its complaint to the Comelec Special Bids and Awards Committee, C3E said that Smartmatic was “merely subcontracting” Taiwan-based Jarltech International Corporation for the production of precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines that were used in the 2010 and 2013 automated elections.

In eligibility documents submitted to the Comelec for the public bidding, Smartmatic said that it is a “majority owner” of Jarltech. But C3E allged that Smartmatic is “guilty of misinformation” as Jarltech’s ownership structure did not reflect Smartmatic as a majority owner.

“Smartmatic is merely a reseller. It subcontracts several aspects of its automated election system (AES) to other more capable suppliers and technology providers,” said Dave Diwa, C3E spokesperson and president of the National Labor Union.

Diwa added that for the lease of additional machines and refurbishment of 80,000 existing units, the Comelec may be tapping again a company “which has never been an expert in automating elections.” (READ: Watchdogs fear ‘sham bidding’ for addt’l voting machines)

C3E also cited Smartmatic’s admission – in a related US court case it filed against Canada-based Dominion Voting Systems – that it did not own the PCOS software and source code, making it “a clear misrepresentation and violation of the terms of contract and election laws.”

“For the past two elections, we’ve been made fools by Smartmatic. We ask the Comelec to reconsider its stance on the blacklisting of Smartmatic,” Diwa said.

Furthermore, C3E alleged that Smartmatic failed to comply with the required 99.995% accuracy rating, posting only a 97.21519% rate in an audit of a mock election held by Smartmatic-TIM last 2012.

With so many pieces of evidence against Smartmatic, C3E said that simply dismissing these allegations without a proper investigation “is tantamount to a betrayal of public trust.” – Rappler.com

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Michael Bueza

Michael is a data curator under Rappler's Tech Team. He works on data about elections, governance, and the budget. He also follows the Philippine pro wrestling scene and the WWE. Michael is also part of the Laffler Talk podcast trio.