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Software glitch delays vote count

Elmer N. Manuel @tribunephl_lmer

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The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday admitted to the technical errors during Monday’s collation of election returns, which resulted in the temporary stoppage of counting through the Comelec Transparency Server.

In a statement, Elections Commissioner Marlon Casquejo said the java software program needed to process poll information reflected an error Monday night, which affected all media networks and organizations sourcing data from the transparency server.

Casquejo said the system needed resetting and quickly showed the updated figures afterwards.

Elections Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, on the other hand, assured the public there was nothing to worry about the temporary glitch and the “erroneous” data should be disregarded.

She added the reflected data would be back on the right track after Comelec restarted the program.

“Don’t mind the data that is erroneous… We are fixing it, Comelec is fixing it,” Guanzon said.

Concerns were raised after the Comelec’s transparency server showed the number of election returns processed were already at 92.89 percent as of 5:20 a.m. on Tuesday, but this went down to 49.76 percent at around 6:21 a.m.

By 7:11 a.m., the figures reverted to the 5:20 a.m. update.

In line with the supposed glitch in the system, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) called on the Comelec to clarify issues surrounding the incident.

“We’re seeking clarification and checking out data whatever is available there. We’re anxious to receive the news as you guys are. We’re seeking clarification as we speak,” PPCRV media director Agnes Gervacio said.

A system glitch also occurred on Monday evening, but Comelec spokesman James Jimenez explained it may be due to a problem with the application that pushes the data from the transparency server to the different media outlets.

Guanzon, meantime, denied accusations of “cheating” after the glitch, stressing that despite the defect in the transparency server, the poll body’s “central server” was functioning well and continuously receiving election returns from clustered precincts.

“We made sure that all the directors were present in the transparency server and our central server was working fine. I assure you, there is no cheating here,” Guanzon said.

She explained the glitch was caused by the malfunction of data packets coming from the transparency server of the poll body and that the data packets were “shocked” after they simultaneously received election data.

Meanwhile, Malacañang said it will support any plan to review the Comelec’s contract with technology provider Smartmatic for problematic vote counting machines (VCM) used in last Monday’s midterm polls.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said there may be a need to review the agreement between the two parties due to the glitches reported during the elections, which led to a delay in the casting and counting of votes.

“They should, because that should teach them a lesson. There must be something wrong,” Panelo told reporters.

“I was listening to some experts saying that because the machines were not used for three years, it is most likely that there will be problems. That’s similar to a car. If you don’t use it for three years, it wouldn’t start,” he continued.

Panelo reiterated that the poll body should conduct periodic maintenance tests on the machines.

“There will be glitches because of the very nature of the machine. I think what they (Comelec) should do is always to a make a test on the machines. They should be using it, even only for test purposes to see if they are working,” Panelo stated.

“Anything that will be for the betterment of this country, we always support. Many are airing their complaints against Smartmatic. Let’s have a probe by the Senate or maybe the House of Representatives,” he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, moments after casting his vote at the Daniel R. Aguinaldo High School in Davao City, asserted that he will allow Comelec to investigate reported irregularities during the conduct of the polls connected with the defective VCM.

“Comelec is an independent body and if there’s any malfunction there or if there’s any aberration at all in the procedure or process in the conduct of the election, let Comelec explain first to the people before we even initiate a sort of an investigation. That is in recognizance of the separation of powers, our independent organs,” the Chief Executive said.

With Kristina Maralit