National Citizens' Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel)

BANTAY NG BAYAN

Archive for April 2010

NUMBER OF REGISTERED VOTERS INCREASED BY 12.7% FROM LAST ELECTIONS – Largest increase of 42% since 2007 elections is recorded in ARMM

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The National Citizens Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) reported today that the number of registered voters reported by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) increased by 12.65% from the 45.03 million registered in the 2007 elections to the 50.74 million registered for the May 2010 elections. There were 43.44 million voters registered in the 2004 elections, giving the 2007 elections a 3.43% increase over 2004. 
 
Applying the National Census and Statistics Board annual average population growth rate of 1.95 % (working figure for the years 2005 – 2010), the reasonable increase in the growth in number of registered voters over a three year period should be around 6 to 8 %.
 
NAMFREL’s Bantay ng Bayan project undertook the research based on the COMELEC’s own Voter Registration Data for election years 2004, 2007, and 2010. The data included voters covered in the voter registration extension period for December 21-23, 28 and 29, 2009.
 
The significant difference in increases between number of registered voters and population would seem to indicate a large number of multiple registrants or that the voters lists have not been completely cleaned up by the COMELEC. NAMFREL estimates that the over-listing may run to an estimated three million names, assuming that the 2007 list was an accurate, cleaned up list.
 
Notably, the region with the highest increase from 2007 to 2010 — 42% — was the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, where the “Hello Garci” controversy was centered in the 2004 elections, and which remains unresolved. Every province in ARMM recorded an increase higher than the national average. Maguindanao province alone registered an increase in number of registered voters of 82% from the 2007 to the 2010 elections, following a 21% drop from the 2004 to 2007 elections.
 
ARMM recorded marked increases in number of voters from 2004 to 2007 to 2010, surpassing the national average increase in 2007 and 2010. 
 
The region with the lowest increase from 2007 to 2010 was Region VI in the Visayas, with a jump of 7.6% (below the national average).
 
Metro Manila or the National Capital Region recorded the second lowest increase of 7.83%, although different cities in the NCR exhibited wide ranges in change. The cities of Malabon, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Paranaque, San Juan, and Taguig all recorded increases of ranging from 20,81% to 29.56%. Pateros recorded a decrease of 13.54%. It is not clear whether changes in voter registration population were a reflection of cleaning of the voters lists or of internal migration among cities and with other parts of the country.

Download the statement HERE

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Written by namfrel

April 6, 2010 at 3:50 pm

NAMFREL EXPRESSES CONCERN WITH REMOVAL OF SECURITY PROVISIONS – Many safeguard provisions of election automation law are disabled or delayed

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The National Citizens Movement for Free Elections or NAMFREL has once again expressed its concern over the disablement or delay of certain safeguard provisions which were originally written into the election automation law.

Wrong ultraviolet ink. Among the latest issues to be disclosed by the COMELEC was the use of the wrong ultraviolet ink in the printing of the ballots to be used on May 10. Originally, ultraviolet ink was supposed to be used as a security mark on the ballot so that the automated counting machines could detect a real ballot from a fake one when ballots were fed into the machine.  COMELEC belatedly disclosed that the wrong ink had been used in the printing process but only after a large number of ballots had already been printed. It has since announced that the UV sensors in the machines would be disabled but then added that Boards of Election Inspectors would be equipped with portable, hand-held UV lights which they would use to sweep over ballots to check for the ink. The portable lights were not included in the original budget of the project and their use now adds an extra step in a new process which BEI are only beginning to learn. It is not clear how hand-held ultraviolet lights will deter ballot fraud since they will presumably detect any type of ultraviolet ink and not necessarily just the ink originally specified for the ballot printing.
 
Digital signatures removed. Aside from the problems with ultraviolet ink, the COMELEC has also removed a provision for digital signatures. In the original law (RA 9369), Sections 19 and 20 required that election returns and certificates of canvass be digitally signed by members of the Boards of Election Inspectors. The COMELEC’s own General Instructions to BEI dated December 29, 2009 (COMELEC Resolution No. 8739) required digital signatures from the BEI by inserting an iButton security key into a security key receptacle in the machine. This would presumably prevent unauthorized transmissions plus allow authorities to trace back who exactly was transmitting from specific locations and machines. The COMELEC has now removed that digital signature provision.  On March 4, 2010, COMELEC released a revised General Instruction (COMELEC Resolution No. 8786) instructing BEI to forego with the digital signatures.

Source code review withheld. Under the law, the COMELEC was supposed to make the source code of the technology available and open to review. Without a thorough review, it will not be possible to determine whether the various sets of instructions throughout the system correctly and accurately reflect the results and are not vulnerable to third-party instructions to introduce codes designed to manipulate vote counts or vote consolidation.
 
Random manual audit rules not yet out. With elections now just over 30 days away, the COMELEC has yet to release its guidelines for the Random Manual Audit required by law. NAMFREL, AES, and other pollwatching groups have advocated wider coverage of the Random Manual Audit as well as its conduct prior to proclamation of winners. Given the newness of the system and the fact that is generally untested over such a large voting population, NAMFREL and others have advocated the importance of random audits and parallel runs over significantly-sized samples, larger than that provided by the law. Given numerous delays and the lifting of so many safeguards, it becomes doubly more important that a transparent audit process be pursued.

No review of back-up or disaster recovery processes. There has been, to our knowledge, no public review of the back-up or disaster recovery processes for the PCOS machines or the different levels of the canvass. If the main software or systems or any of its components fail for any reason, the back-up systems will be resorted to. These back-up systems have not been given a thorough review to check for any vulnerabilities to fraud.
 
Additional safeguard measures continue to remain under close watch by NAMFREL and periodic reports will be released as assessments are completed.

Download the statement HERE

Written by namfrel

April 6, 2010 at 3:49 pm

THE CVL IS ONE OF THE WEAK LINKS IN THE 2010 ELECTIONS

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The reliability of voters’ lists is a persistent problem in past elections. NAMFREL has long advocated the need for a clean, accurate complete, and current Certified Voters List,(CVL) because a reliable CVL is the “guardian” of the “one person, one vote” election principle. A clean CVL has no duplicate names or multiple registrants or ineligible persons on the list such as minors and deceased persons. NAMFREL has also advocated that such a list should be made public and accessible to all voters and interested parties.
 
While COMELEC has stated that the CVLs are available to the public and interested groups, it is available for a fee for those who want to secure copies like NAMFREL. The election watchdog’s local coordinators were quoted fees ranging from P 15.00 to P 75.00 per precint to be able to secure copies for it to have the documents for its election monitoring task . If NAMFREL was to pay P15 per precinct to photocopy the CVLs nationwide, it will need approximately P5.0 million for all unclustered precincts.
 
According to NAMFREL Secretary-General Eric Alvia, random inspections by its Bantay ng Bayan teams in different parts of the country show that CVLs continue to contain errors. One such flaw are 36 voters with identical names in Naujan, Oriental Mindoro and 10 names which have different middle names or spelling in Balo-i, Lanao del Norte. Another flaw are names of deceased persons still appearing in the voter rolls in Sugpon (5 names) and Sta Lucia (5 names), both in Ilocos Sur, and in Mandaluyong (6 names). Still another flaw is the questionable number of centenarian voters in certain towns, among others in Mandaluyong which has 187 voters who are at least 100 years old.
 
The COMELEC’s Education and Information Department itself has identified almost 705,000 multiple registrants across the country and has bundled these under a “Watch List.”

The COMELEC should view NAMFREL as a co-operator rather than an adversary.  NAMFREL’s findings should help COMELEC identify the problem areas and do whatever is necessary to clean up the list where problems have been spotted.  The COMELEC can look at the NAMFREL volunteers as its grassroots organization and give credence to its findings.  We can assume that their common mission is to clean up the certified voters list so that the NAMFREL inputs should enable the COMELEC to target the area where priority should be given.
 
To address the issue of multiple registrants, NAMFREL advises the use of genuine indelible ink to ensure that persons vote only once in spite of possible multiple registrations.
 
NAMFREL Bantay ng Bayan volunteers also reported that names of persons who registered during the voter registration extension period in December 2009 were not included in CVLs posted in Valenzuela, Taguig, Las Pinas, Pasay, Muntinlupa and in the province of Palawan. COMELEC officials there said that “Supplemental Lists” containing names of late registrants were still being prepared for posting. It is hoped that COMELEC shall incorporate the names in the Supplemental List with the CVLs so that the Board of Election Inspectors will not have to check two different lists on election day.

Download the statement HERE

Written by namfrel

April 6, 2010 at 3:47 pm

NAMFREL ADVISES VOTERS TO LOOK FOR NAMES ON CERTIFIED VOTERS LIST AND TO LOCATE THEIR PRECINCTS

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With just a little over 30 days left before elections on May 10, NAMFREL Chairman Jose L. Cuisia advises all voters to check their names in the COMELEC’s Certified Voters Lists (CVL) to get beforehand the exact location of their voting precincts. They can do this by checking out the CVL at the municipal or city COMELEC offices or for those who have access to the internet, log on to http://www.comelec.gov.ph/precinctfinder/precinctfinder.aspx.
 
According to Cuisia, “Under the COMELEC’s calendar, CVLs should have been posted in prominent places in every city and municipality across the country starting February 9 so that voters could check in which precinct they are registered and where they will vote on May 10.”
 
The NAMFREL Chairman added, “Where in the past only 200 to 250 voters were assigned per precinct, the clustering of the precincts under the automated election system in the May 2010 election will increase the number of voters to 1,000 per precinct.”

NAMFREL warned that with the clustering of precincts, there will be possible confusion, congestion, and long queues in voting centers if people are not advised early enough of the change in their precinct assignments. The Voters’ Information Sheet (VIS) or information on voting precint assignment which every voter is supposed to receive from the COMELEC before election day almost always never comes.

Download the statement HERE

Written by namfrel

April 6, 2010 at 3:45 pm