Locsin: No to automated elections in 2013

Posted at 06/28/2010 2:46 PM | Updated as of 06/28/2010 5:31 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms on Monday opposed a plan to automate the May 2013 mid-term elections after proving that there was systematic cheating in the local polls last May 10.

Speaking to ANC, Makati Rep. Teodoro Locsin said complainants in the House investigation on the 2010 polls were able to present documentary evidence that proved vote-rigging and that the precinct count optical scan machines (PCOS) can be used for cheating.

He said the PCOS machines had one good virtue, in that it allowed people to see if they were used for electronic cheating. "Candidates came forward to show that there was voting that started at 10 in the evening, there was voting on other days and there was pre-shading ballots," he said.

"Smartmatic tried to give one explanation after another, but none of the explanations held, and in the end, they admitted they cannot explain," he said.

Locsin said some boards of election inspectors actively participated in fraud practices and that poll machine supplier Smartmatic-TIM was not able to prove that the machines cannot be used for fraud.

The Makati congressman said he would discourage automation and push for manual polls in the next elections on 2013 unless all the loopholes can be plugged.

"It would be easier to use the paper ballot if you are unable to clean up the [Commission on Elections] and the BEIs who conduct the cheating and if you are unable to improve the machine so that it will not reset to zero in the middle of the night," he said.
 
According to Locsin's 47-page chairman’s report, sporadic cheating in the May 10 polls was confined to the local races usually through manipulation of time and date stamps, resetting the machines, refeeding already scanned or unused ballots and taking complete control of precincts.

It said that while the process of manipulating the votes at the local level was time-consuming, laborious and risky, "the risk of discovery was mitigated by the certain knowledge that the media would dismiss the cheated candidate as a sore loser, forgetting the principle that while some losers cry cheated, some winners really cheated.”

Locsin said that the time and date stamp issues “are too serious in all its aspects for the members of the committee to be convinced by explanations” that he described as sounding “like works in progress” at best.

“An election return that is dated other than the official day of elections must be taken at face value and is legally invalid. Voting logged as taking place hours after the close of voting hours, with ballots logged as having been fed to the voting machine at a fast and unvarying rate consistent only with one person doing it, are not just suspicious but invalid as well. It is no argument to say that when the time is wrong, the time is still right just because it is consistently wrong. Smartmatic tried to argue 12 hours of voting is still 12 hours of voting whenever and whatever the time logged or, for that matter, the date of the ER,” he said.