With elections just around the corner, many people are concerned that there will be massive cheating. As previously discussed in this column, IT experts who have reviewed the source code of the Vote Counting Machines (VCMs) and Canvassing Computers (CCS) concur that while cheating may be possible, it will be difficult and will require the complicity of many people.
Some people have insinuated that the cheats have been built into the code such that 20% of the votes for candidate A will go to candidate B and so on. However, our independent experts have already verified that no such scenario is possible.
What is possible though, is that ALL the votes for candidate A will go to candidate B, and this is not due to a cheat built into the code, but rather an error in the configuration files used to initialize the VCMs. Remember that the VCM does not read the candidate names. It only takes note of the position of the shaded area and counts that as a vote towards a particular candidate.
If configured wrongly, then that is the time when votes for candidate A will go to candidate B but it will count ALL votes and not just selected or randomized ones.
This error will also show up in the voting receipt one gets after feeding the ballot in the VCM.
In order to properly file a complaint, make sure you follow these steps when voting (thanks to Dr. Pablo Manalastas for the original steps):
- Before shading your ballot, take note of your BALLOT ID NUMBER found at the UPPER RIGHT CORNER of your ballot. Write down this number on a small piece of paper or on your hand.
- Shade COMPLETELY the oval of the candidates of your choice. DO NOT make any extra or unnecessary marks. Feed your ballot into the VCM scanner, and wait a few seconds for the VCM printer to finish printing your receipt. Note that once you feed your ballot into the VCM, and you get your receipt, you cannot get your ballot back. Acceptance by the VCM is final.
- Step away from the VCM so that the next voter can cast his vote, and walk towards the black box receptacle for the receipt.
- Read your receipt and if there is any error, then WRITE YOUR BALLOT ID NUMBER onto the back of the receipt, sign it and complain to the BEI (Board of Election Inspectors), telling him/her of your objection.
- The BEI is required to LOG your complaint. Make sure that he/she does. With the Ballot ID on the receipt, Comelec can then match your receipt to the correct ballot and check the validity of your complaint. If the Ballot ID is not written on your receipt, there is no way to match the receipt to the proper ballot, and so your complaint may be ignored by Comelec, or Comelec might charge you with frivolous complaint.
- If your receipt matches your ballot exactly, deposit your receipt into the black box receptacle. you can not take your receipt with you out of the precinct — this is an election offense.
Remember, before everything else, COPY YOUR BALLOT ID NUMBER. You will no longer have access to your ballot once you feed it to the machine, and without this number, there is no way for you to match your ballot with your voting receipt and thus make a valid complaint.
Originally published in Sunstar Davao.