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Just print it, SC tells Comelec on voters’ receipts

By: - Reporter / @TarraINQ
/ 05:20 AM March 19, 2016

The Commision on Elections (Comelec) only needs to produce voter receipts for verification purposes during the national elections in May to “substantially” comply with the Supreme Court’s order.

The Supreme Court made this clarification in its 11-page full-court notice on its decision to junk the Comelec’s motion for reconsideration of the voter-receipt requirement, saying other security features that would make each printout unique may be added in future elections.

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“We (want to) clarify. This court’s writ of mandamus requires a voter’s receipt. The writ of mandamus is substantially complied with when a voter’s receipt is printed and the voter can physically verify his or her vote. Additional features may be added in the voter’s receipt for future elections,” the Supreme Court said.

In a 13-0 vote on Thursday, the high court denied the Comelec’s plea to overturn its order requiring the activation of the voter verification paper audit trail feature or voter receipts in the vote-counting machines during the elections.

‘Attendant risks’

Comelec Chair Andres Bautista had said the poll body could comply with the order but cautioned that it would have “attendant risks,” including prolonging balloting hours, tiring out teachers who would serve as election inspectors, vulnerability to vote-buying, possible paper jams and other problems.

He said the Comelec may produce only bare receipts bearing a voter’s chosen candidates but without identifying marks because including security features in the printouts would require another revision of the source code.

The source code is the script that runs the automated election software, which in turn tells the vote-counting machines how to operate.

‘It can be done’

But these features—the time of voting, the voter’s unique ballot ID, precinct number and the alphanumeric hash code generated through the unalterable version of the source code—are necessary to make each receipt unique and useful for audit purposes, said senatorial candidate Richard Gordon, the petitioner who won the case against Comelec.

“It can be done. They already proved it in February when they changed the source code [in the vote-counting machines]. And because they already did it before, why can they not do it again? It’s not a very complicated process,” Gordon said on Friday.

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TAGS: Andres Bautista, Comelec, Commission on Elections, Supreme Court
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