2022 Philippine Elections

Comelec opens applications for 2022 election system review

Dwight de Leon

FILE PHOTO. A vote-counting machine used for the 2016 elections

Rappler

Under the law, the Comelec is required to open the source code or 'master blueprint' of the automated election system to interested local groups

Groups who want to participate in a review of the source code or the “master blueprint” of vote-counting machines and other aspects of the automated election system (AES) in the 2022 polls have until September 10, 2021, to submit their applications to the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

In an advisory on Monday, August 16, the Comelec said the local source code review is open to the following:

  • Political parties or coalition of parties duly registered and/or accredited by the Comelec
  • Legitimate organizations or groups accredited by the Comelec, including previously accredited citizens arms in the 2019 elections
  • Known and recognized IT groups, recommended by the Comelec Advisory Council and/or the Department of Information and Communications Technology
  • Civil society organizations known for their involvement in election reform activities
  • Members of the Comelec Advisory Council and Joint Congressional Oversight Committee

The poll body started receiving applications on Monday. Comelec, however, has yet to announce when the actual AES source code review will begin.

Republic Act No. 9369 or the Election Automation Law compels the Comelec to open the source code for review to interested local groups. This gives independent parties an opportunity to see for themselves that the AES is not susceptible to fraud.

A Comelec resolution on August 11 also said the process seeks to build public trust and confidence in the AES.

“The local source code review is an important requirement of the automation law, as it hopefully assures stakeholders and the general public that there are no hidden instructions lurking in the codes that tell the vote-counting machines how to work,” Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez had said in September 2018.

Sixty-six individuals from 16 groups participated in the local source code review for the 2019 polls, which was hounded by criticisms over defective vote-counting machines, corrupted SD cards, and a seven-hour glitch that delayed the release of results. Despite these, random manual audit of the elections that year yielded an accuracy rate of 99.99%.

Multinational corporation Smartmatic will return as the Comelec’s software provider for the 2022 polls, after securing a P402-million contract back in May.

That’s despite President Duterte’s statement in 2019 that the Comelec should junk Smartmatic’s vote-counting machines and “look for a new one that is free of fraud.” – Rappler.com

Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers local government units and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.