Where is the digital signature?
It appears that the Comelec disabled the password requirement before the poll inspectors (the BEI) could transmit the results to a central server. This was effectively and literally an absent digital signature.
It is submitted that the uniqueness of the so-called I-bot cannot guarantee that the person required to sign the non-electronic election return (ER) was in fact also the one “sending” the results electronically. The I-bot is attached to the machine, but the machine may not be in the control of the responsible poll inspector when the results are transmitted, particularly as the time-stamp on the machine is known to be not authentic.
What can be done?
Here’s a simple fix. Each responsible BEI member can send a password-protected secure e-mail to Comelec attesting to the absence of discrepancy between the manually printed and signed ER at the time of transmission, and the data on the public precinct-level Comelec website. This should not be difficult to set up. At least one BEI is required to be sufficiently tech-savvy to be able to go to an internet café and send such a message. The BEI can be instructed to use two different subject headings: One says “No discrepancy”(for non-problematic ERs) and “There is a discrepancy” for others. The responsible BEI can be held administratively liable for an incorrect message in the event that a review of the relevant ER indicates an irregularity on his/her part.
Comelec can then sort out the problems relating to messages flagging discrepancies. It can report to the national canvass on the status of such discrepancies, and on the receipt of the proposed e-mail messages in lieu of the required digital signatures.
While this requires human intervention, it seems a minimum requirement that may solve the problem of the absence of digital signature.
No to “looking the other way”
The alternative of “looking the other way” suggested or hinted at by certain politicians should be ignored. Too many short cuts have already been made in the automation exercise, which has made the country a de facto giant pilot test of the system sold by Smartmatic-TIM to Comelec.