Automated elections in the Philippines: 25% probability of success as of March 8

On March 8, Smartmatic came out with full-page ads in several national newspapers, claiming that the Automated Election System (AES) project they are implementing for the Philippine government have the people’s vote of confidence.

We at Halalang Marangal sat down to discuss the ad and realized that all the information contained there, analyzed carefully and taken together, actually meant that as of March 8, the AES probability of success had become unacceptably low. we even tried to be generous in our assessment, and gave the company some benefit of the doubt (where it was possible to do so!), but the numbers still led to a low probability of success.

That parenthetical comment was necessary because I found it incredible that Smartmatic would claim successful field tests and mock elections when media had reported many cases of rejected ballots and transmission problems even in Metro Manila. If Smartmatic can blatantly lie about this in public, then it can lie about anything. Smartmatic has also imposed a blackout on statistics about the scanning accuracy of its machines.

Anyway, I won’t keep you in suspense. You can download the presentation now. (HALAL analysis of AES risk of failure – as of March 20).



  1. Posted March 20, 2010 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    we know we’re in trouble, but this is a mathematical way of looking at it. thanks for this. and good luck to us all.

  2. Posted March 21, 2010 at 4:38 am | Permalink

    Welcome back Obet!…
    Basic History: Once the human factor is removed from direct election count by automation, then a nation or state has given politics over to an even easier avenue for corruption.
    Look what has happened in nearly every other “developed” country especially the US., supposedly a model of democratic representation. Citizens wash their hands of direct responsibility, only to complain bitterly about the inevitable results of not being fairly represented. The televised election process takes on a game show status and the real work of feeding , powering, washing and self supporting a country is distracted by the “entertainment” of the staged battles between candidates all but a few of whom are in it mostly for the money. Ask who (persons by name) owns Smartmatic..who actually benefits?
    In the US, we now have a country where every candidate is compromised regardless of good intention to serve the humanity of its people. As far as real people are concerned… how can any modern political system actually fairly represent people? The first to the last translation is bent to follow the money or perceived advantage of power. In my mind, an automated link is directly in conflict with the very concept of elections, an event for and by people, not by machines.

    There is a parallel in the political world to the agronomic translation of soil sciences.
    As a farm trouble shooter now working more often on the international scale, I see the same thing repeatedly occurring in all countries and nationalities that I observe. The dehumanization of politics.

    Soil tests and administrations of agricultural programs are not the cause of healthy plant growth. Plants don’t read our books and theories. They respond to reality, have no agenda and don’t lie about conditions. Same goes with live stock…

    Elections, especially automated ones, don’t really have much to do these days with the daily reality needs of citizens in most countries.. They add a weaker link to an already thin facsimile of trust.
    Lower level civil servants are somewhat more connected to real needs since they have to answer to people at ground level, just as a starving plant wants a real relationship with a living soil not a digital output based on isolated or lobbied sciences.

    …There is something direct and more accountable about seeing the faces of those attending the ballot boxes and those actually elected that gives some sincerity to a community.

  3. Roberto Verzola
    Posted April 1, 2010 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    How right you are, Mike. Our suggestion to the election commission was to keep the manual voting and counting at the precinct level, and to use technologies to enhance transparency, rather to minimize human intervention.

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