Comelec transparency and media servers can handle data of up to 100K precincts

THE Commission on Elections transparency and media servers can now simultaneously handle election data for over 100,000 clustered precincts without bogging down.

Comelec Commissioner Marlon S. Casquejo made the announcement at the weekend as he assured the public there will no longer be a repeat of the controversial “7-hour glitch” which disrupted the transfer of election results from the transparency server to the media servers during the 2019 midterm polls. That 7-hour down time sparked fears of election fraud.

The poll official said this time around, Comelec successfully conducted a comprehensive stress test to check if the transparency and media servers could process election results from 30,000 to a high as 106,000 clustered precincts.

“In the [test] we did, we were able to transmit [election results] from 100,000 to 106,000 [clustered] precincts simultaneously. It was able to pass the media server without a hitch,” Casquejo said at a press conference for a virtual walkthrough of the Comelec servers in the University of Santo Tomas (UST) in Manila on Saturday.

Contingency measures

Comelec attributed the 7-hour glitch to the “bottle neck” between the transparency and media server due to the sheer volume of data both processed in 2019.

The incident caused significant concerns from election observers during that elections.

Casquejo noted that at that time their stress test for both servers were from 300 to 1,000 vote counting machines (VCM) only from the clustered precincts.

He said the matter could have been easily resolved with a reboot of the servers, but noted this was not immediately implemented since it required an approval of the Comelec en banc that time.

For the 2022 polls, Casquejo said they will now allow their information technology officers to conduct such action in relation to the Comelec servers even without a Comelec en banc resolution.

“But if it involves the removal or fixing of any code, that is another matter. It will no longer be covered by the authority of our technical committees,” Casquejo said.

Quick count

Besides improving the servers’ capacity for the 2022 polls, Casquejo said they will also make the operations more transparent.

Comelec announced on Thursday that it expanded the list of parties that may access its servers, to include 10 major political parties.

This is aside from the dominant majority and dominant minority political parties, media, and citizens’ arm, which were given access to the transparency server in previous elections.

“Why is it important for them? Because they can do their own quick count…. They can validate the results from their field coordinator to the transmitted results in the transparency server since they have an advance copy of the result,” Casquejo said.

“So they will know who is about to win or will be the trending outcome of the elections,” he added.

Server locations

Comelec also disclosed for the first time the locations of the server it will use in the May 9, 2022 polls so the public could monitor for any irregularities in its operations.

The main server is at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig; back-up server in Libis in Eastwood, Quezon City; the transparency server in Sucat, Parañaque; and the media server in the UST.

He said they opted to divulge the location to dispel concerns from lawmakers and the public about possible tampering of the said servers.

“Although this [disclosure] will lead to small security risks, we are confident the PNP (Philippine National Police) are capable of securing the locations,” Casquejo said.

Comelec Information and Technology Office Roderick Ilagan said the 2022 polls will also be the first time when all the main, back-up, and transparency servers are located in data centers certified by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

In previous elections, he said the transparency server was located in a “makeshift data center” at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila. “Our worry is that there will not be enough power and cooling system [for the transparency server],” Ilagan said.


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