Sunday, March 3, 2024

As Comelec eyes new poll system, PH firm pitches homegrown solution

Local tech firm Tambuli Labs recently announced the development of its Mobile Secure Election System or MoSES to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) during the focus group discussions (FGD) organized by the poll agency on election systems with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordination Center (CICC).

The hardware components of MoSES (tablets, printers, desktop computers, LCD projectors) can be donated to other agencies like the Department of Education for the benefit of teachers and public schools

Niel Lachica, chief technology officer of Tambuli, said MoSES is a 100% Filipino-designed and developed election system.

It is primarily a Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) System but modified to suit the nuances of Philippine elections. It was designed with the principle of “private voting – public counting.”

MoSES is a tablet-based election system that allows the voters to choose their candidates via a touch screen. Candidates chosen for categories of elective positions (President and Vice President, Senators, Provincial positions, Local positions) will have to be confirmed by the voter.

MoSES then displays all the candidates chosen and the voter will have to confirm if the selection displayed is accurate. Once confirmed, a ballot will be printed. The voter then compares the printed ballot with the selection displayed on the tablet. This is to ensure that the ballot is an accurate representation of the voter’s selections.

This is where the DRE is modified to suit Philippine elections. In a conventional DRE, the selection is digitally transmitted, and the voter may just receive a receipt of the selected candidates.

In MoSES, the ballot (which the voter has confirmed is an accurate representation of the voter’s selected candidates) is dropped in the ballot box and will be used in the canvassing of votes when the polls close.

The willful selection of the candidates by the voter, aided by confirmations within the voting process, highlights the private voting feature of MoSES. When the polls close, the Election Officer (EO) will use the ballots in canvassing the votes. MoSES has a module called TARAS – Tally and Review Automated System.

TARAS allows the public canvassing of votes assisted by technology. The process is the EO retrieves all the ballots from the ballot box and one by one scans the QR code printed on the ballot to display the digital image on the screen.

As each ballot is scanned, the EO shows the paper ballot to the public so they can see that the paper ballot is the same as the displayed digital ballot.

A column showing how TARAS counted the votes in that ballot is displayed, alongside the running count for the precinct. Since 2010, the public has not seen how the votes were counted.

MoSES provides this feature through TARAS. Once all the ballots have been scanned and its digital image displayed and accurately counted (with public confirmation), an Election Return (ER) is then printed. The ER is also displayed for confirmation by the public.

MoSES allows full confirmation of the voter’s selection to ensure that the printed ballot reflects the voter’s selection (private voting). When the polls close, each voter verified ballot is displayed on screen with the matching paper ballot shown to the public and counted accurately by TARAS (public counting). The Election Return is then printed, ensuring an accurate canvass of the votes in the precinct.

Unlike the previous election system where the counting machine is used only for one day, the hardware components of MoSES (tablets, printers, desktop computers, LCD projectors) can be donated to other agencies like the Department of Education for the benefit of teachers and public schools.

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