Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Speaker: PCOS hack possible in RP's first automated polls

A member of the Board of Elections Inspectors inspects a Precinct Count Optical Scanning machine in the southern Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

MANILA, Philippines - Speaker Prospero Nograles said that while Congress is determined to push for the early proclamation of the country's next President and Vice-President, he is equally disturbed with an HBO film documentary which showed automated election manipulation by hacking into the memory cards of optical machines similar to the Precinct Count Optical Scanning machines used during the May 10 national elections.

In the HBO film documentary, Harri Hursti demonstrated how votes can be manipulated even without any physical contact with a random sample of an optical scanning machine that was actually used during US elections as long as the memory card used was programmed by Hursti himself.

Nograles said the documentary entitled "Hacking Democracy" showed disturbing results, entirely reversing the actual votes made vis-a-vis with the result churned out by the randomly selected optical scanning machine.

"My attention was called to documented evidence of counting machine anomalies in the United States, one of which is the Hursti hack. The result should have 1 for 'yes' and '7' for 'no' but when the machine showed the result, it was '7' for yes and 1 for 'no', Nograles said.

"I'm hoping that no such hacking similar to this happened in our national elections. This is the reason why I am proposing a random manual count of 800 clustered precincts to be determined by Congress in order to put our country at ease by knowing the truth. This is mandated under the poll automation law," Nograles said.

The Speaker stressed that the fact that four days before elections, the PCOS machines were unsealed and compact flash memory cards were recalled and replaced which may have compromised the integrity of the PCOS machines' ability to correctly count the votes. Any Hursti-style of hacking may have occurred and Congress will get to the bottom of this, he said. (Gil Bugaoisan)

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