Smartmatic - 2010 Automated Elections in The Philippines

2010 Automated Elections in The Philippines

A total of over 76,340 units plus 5,000+ back-up PCOS machines or Precinct-Count Optical Scanners, plus some 1,700 servers were deployed in the country's first nation-wide fully automated elections, from counting of votes to transmission and canvassing of election results. Election Day was Monday, May 10, 2010 with live full coverage from ABS-CBN, ANC and GMA Network . The elected president became the 15th President of the Philippines, succeeding President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who was barred from seeking re-election due to term restrictions. The successor of the Vice-President Noli de Castro is the 15th Vice President of the Philippines. Legislators elected in these 2010 elections joined the senators of the 2007 elections and comprise the 15th Congress of the Philippines. The 2010 election was administered by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) in compliance with the Republic Act No. 9369, also known as Amended Computerization Act of 2007. Besides logistical problems, during the last few days prior to the election poll machine & services supplier Smartmatic-Total Information Management Corporation (TIM) found cases of PCOS machine failures. Nonetheless it was decided not to postpone elections since the technical issues were resolved quickly and the solution could be deployed by Election Day. Despite the fact that some provinces reported issues in the election process, these did not surpass the 0.50% of the total number of PCOS machines, and most were replaced on time, as planned for. As a result of the delays, the COMELEC extended voting hours from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and continued through the night transmitting the votes from every precinct scattered across the country.

After the elections closed and transmissions from PCOS machines began arriving en masse and the COMELEC was able to publish the first partial results, many former doubts and concerns vanished, to be replaced by astonishment due to the unprecedented speed of the tally

On June 29, 2010 the Philippine Computer Society (PCS) filed a complaint with the country's Ombudsman against 17 officials of the Commission on Elections and the Smartmatic-TIM Corp. for alleged “incompetence,” graft and unethical conduct.

The suit seemingly had had little or no effect on the positive public perception of the May elections. A survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed that an overwhelming majority (75%) of Filipinos were very satisfied with the conduct of the automated elections. The survey also found that voters regarded the 2010 elections one of the most-credible and transparent in Philippine history.

The project to automate Philippine elections had been met with vociferous opposition from its beginning. Several groups which were benefiting from the traditionally fraudulent conduct of Philippines polls found themselves facing great political and economic loss with the promised transparency and auditability of the automated elections system.

Just a few days before the elections, Philippine Computer Society (PCS) filed an injunction against the automated elections, citing fears that the project could fail. The Supreme Court had junked the petition. In the decision upholding the automation project, The Supreme Court said that the arguments raised by the petitioners were "speculative" as they were merely raising their fears in connection with poll automation. The high tribunal ruled that the contentions could not be argued on the basis of fears.

Foreign embassies were also of the opinion that the automated polls were successful. Ambassador Alistair MacDonald of the EU said that he was "impressed by the manner in which this first nationwide automated election was conducted." The US embassy, for their part, congratulated the Filipino people for holding its first automated polls citing the exercise as “another milestone in the Philippines’ democratic history.”

In 2011, The Carter Center, a global peace and health organization founded by former US President Jimmy Carter, cited Smartmatic and the Comelec for the “relatively high public confidence and trust on the use of optical mark recognition technology.” In a 46-page report on its mission to observe the 2010 Philippine Automated Elections, the Carter Center said that “such a success is a credit to the hard work of COMELEC and Smartmatic as well as the commitment of the people of the Philippines toward increasingly transparent elections.”

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