Hang ’em High- And we don’t mean just Smartmatic Execs

May 6, 2010

Hang ’em high

‘Who knows, a miracle could still happen.’

A SURF in the bloggers’ universe yields an amazing near-unanimity in the proposed punishment for Comelec and Smartmatic officials for bungling the automated elections: Hang them high on the nearest Meralco post at Plaza Roma.

It may just come to that, mobs storming the Palacio del Gobernador which houses the commission, followed by a lynching. But not just yet. The officials are now pushing automation on a wing and a prayer. Who knows, a miracle could still happen.

And indeed a miracle is needed to make the May 10 exercise credible. After the fiasco during the testing of the PCOS machines at the start of the week, it is a foregone conclusion that Comelec would be swamped by protests at the local level. The replacement flash cards are supposed to correct the glitch, but the damage to the credibility of the process has been done. Who will now trust those new programs?

In fact, we are taking here of at least 2,000 distinct and unique programs, all of which are to be tested on site. That figure was based on an estimate of the number of unique sets of candidates for which the PCOS have to be programmed. There are about 1,300 municipalities and 140 cities. Considering that big cities are further divided into districts, each with a seat in Congress and a unique set of councilors, the total would be around 2,000.

There would be rampant suspicion, based on the experience with the first testing, that the flash cards had been tampered with for the purpose of “dagdag-bawas.” And if there would be a window for cheating at the local level, the more would be the suspicion that the national tallies would have been corrupted by programming design.

It is simply unthinkable for Smartmatic to load the machines with untested programs. The first lesson a programmer must learn is to test, test, test and test every new program. And test again. And again.

But Smartmatic didn’t and Comelec allowed the contractor to get away with it. These lapses are tantamount to criminal negligence.

We, however, continue to hope against hope that the automated system in place would faithfully reflect the people’s sovereign choice. The other scenarios are too grim to contemplate.

And we are not thinking only of some people strung up in front of the Manila Cathedral.

(editor’s note: let the one who planned all this be the first to hang. we are in no position to entertain megalomaniacs and those who would not give up power)


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