Smartmatic, academics laud automated polls in Democracy Watch Forum

Manila, Philippines, December 16th 2013.- Members of the academe and research experts have called for the continued use of automated elections, citing its many benefits to democracy and the economy.

Julio Teehankee, dean of De La Salle University’s College of Liberal Arts said "the automated election system provides more accountable and transparent polls."

In a forum hosted by advocacy group Democracy Watch entitled “The Philippine Automated Elections: Gains and Remaining Issues” held recently at De La Salle University, Teehankee noted as evidenced by a random manual audit, the 2013 senatorial election yielded an accuracy of 99.97 percent.

The Random Manual Audit Committee, made up of the Comelec, Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting and National Statistics Office, administered the audit by matching the automated and manual count of 1,016,860 votes from randomly picked 234 clustered precincts. The RMA of the first automated elections in 2010 yielded an accuracy of 99.6 percent.

Teehankee added the Consortium on Electoral Reforms and Ateneo de Manila University’s Ateneo Fact-Check both heralded the 2013 elections as being credible despite minor technical glitches that both groups acknowledged were being continually addressed by the Comelec.

Ador Torneo, DLSU Political Science Department assistant professional lecturer, presented parts of a draft paper about how the 60-30-10 pattern is a natural offshoot of the law of large numbers.

Cesar Flores, president for Asia-Pacific of Smartmatic International, which provided the Precinct Count Optical Scanners used in the 2010 and 2013 national polls, said it is important that the academe is taking the initiative in educating the people as to what really happened.

"It’s great that people with real scientific background are making a deeper analysis of the elections, so that people are not misled" he said.

He emphasized that a more thorough analysis of  the data would reveal that the so-called pattern is nonexistent.

Flores reiterated that Smartmatic is a technology provider and that his company "stands squarely behind its technology."  He added, though, that he believes that "all types of audit should be done by the proper parties."

Commissioner Luie Guia of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), said they are prepared to present facts to answer any allegations related to the 2013 elections. "It’s important to us that people accept the result of the election as credible. So we’re listening to everything that’s being said about this."

Guia further said that going back to manual elections will render futile what the government and civil society has worked hard for to achieve - an election process that is accountable, transparent and fast.

The forum was organized in cooperation with DLSU’s Political Science Department.