You voted for Duterte but your vote is credited to Roxas phenomenon explained by Ateneo IT expert

Less than a week before the May 2016 elections, reported issues with the Voting Counting Machines floods the social media.

A post reporting an alleged anomaly in the final testing of the VCM machine in Lanao del Sur has been doing the rounds online.

Karl Nograles discovered computer bug in VCM machine

Credits to Cong. Karl Nograles

In a Facebook post shared more than 9,000 times and counting as of Thursday afternoon, Congressman Karlo Nograles wrote the short message on his timeline to announce the alarming incident in the first district of Lanao del Sur.

In the post, Congressman Karl Nograles of the 1st District of Davao City narrated the info he received that during the final testing of the PCOS/VCM, the vote for Duterte is credited to Roxas.

It appears this is not an isolated incident. This happened in Bohol and in Tarlac and even overseas.

Geof Segundo Carmelo:

Same case here in Mayantoc, Tarlac. Upon testing the VCM, they shaded Duterte on the ballot but the result goes to Roxas, As well as in the VP.

Nutri V Rich wrote:

Tagbilaran city Bohol is the same duterte cayetano ang binoto but to our surprised ROXAS robredo ang lumabas PUTANG INA talaga silamga dilaw Cguro afflicted with hepatitis yang mga yan kaya mga yellow. (Same thing happehed in Tagbilaran City Bohol. Someone voted for Duterte-Cayetano (final testing) but to his/her surprised, the votes were credited to Roxas-Robredo. These sons of bitches yellow cult. Perhaps, they are afflicted with Hepatitis, hence, they are turning yellow.)

Grace Bacasmas wrote:

It happened here in HK.. Vote Duterte but the reciept come out Roxas…

Aliana Callueng wrote:

Same thing happened in Dagupan, Pangasinan. Shaded name was Duterte but when came out, name of Roxas appeared. Sad!.

The alleged computer bug has been drawing adverse reactions from netizens warning the COMELEC to do their job properly.

Eva Gracia wrote:

Balik na sa mano-mano counting. (Revert to manual counting.) In the Netherlands, electronic voting and counting was used but it was reverted to mano-mano counting because it was susceptible to cheating so i wonder why COMELEC pushed for it in the Philippines.

Narrow Way Iglesia wrote:

Dili mo lampos ang tawong tikasan I pray for mayor Duterte nga siya ang makadaug. Dili na Pcos Machine kon dili Tikas Machine(Cheaters won’t succeed. I pray for Duterte that he wins the election. No longer PCOS machine, but cheat HOCUS PCOS machine.)

Andrew Basmayor Avestruz wrote:

I think that machine is already set and it’s sucks to hear about this. can you trust people or that person who will run for president is a manipulator. ..someone should be punish if it is proven.

This phenomenon is not unusual according to an IT expert from the Ateneo de Manila University.

On May 1, 2016, the Mr. Pablo Manalastas posted an interesting article to explain this phenomenon:

You voted for Duterte by shading his oval on your ballot, but the receipt that the Vote Counting Machine (VCM) printed says that you voted for Roxas. This post will explain that if you encounter this error on election day, then this error is not your fault. It will show that the error is due to mismatch between the ballot and the VCM configuration file delivered to your precinct, and that Comelec is to blame for this error.

Please read the continuation of the VIRAL post of the Ateneo IT expert below:

A close examination of the ballot shows that there are 24 column marks numbered column-1 to column-24. Note that column-1, column-7, column-13, and column-19 are the columns where the ovals of the candidates can be found. Also there are 55 row marks, numbered row-1 to row-55. Note that row-11 and row-12 are the rows of the presidential candidates.

When you shade the oval on row-11 column 7 to vote for Duterte, the VCM does not know that you are voting for Duterte since it can not read Duterte’s name on the ballot, since it is not an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) VCM. It can not read the characters in the name of your candidates. Instead it can recognize the mark that you put in the oval on row-11 column-7, since it is an Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) VCM. It only knows that you selected the candidate on row-11 column-7. How then does it assign your vote mark to Duterte? It consults a table in the SD card of the VCM that says that Binay is in row-11 column-1, Defensor Santiago is in row-12 column-1, Duterte is in row-11 column-7, Poe is in row-12 column-7, and Roxas is in row-11 column-13. The table is an XML file called “election.xml”, and it is written onto the SD card of the VCM that is delivered to your precinct before election day. The election.xml file contains a portion that looks like this.


<contest no=”1″ name=”president”>
<cand row=”11″ column=”1″ no=”1″ name=”Binay”></cand>
<cand row=”12″ column=”1″ no=”2″ name=”Defensor Santiago”></cand>
<cand row=”11″ column=”7″ no=”3″ name=”Duterte”></cand>
<cand row=”12″ column=”7″ no=”4″ name=”Poe”></cand>
<cand row=”11″ column=”13″ no=”5″ name=”Roxas”></cand>

This is the correct version of the “election.xml” file for your precinct. So that if you shaded the oval at row=”11″ column=”7″ your vote should go to Duterte, and your receipt should say that you voted for Duterte.

However, the Comelec has to prepare 92,500+ VCM computers and 92,500+ SD cards (times two, since each VCM has two SD cards) containing the correct version of the election.xml file for your precinct. Because of the vast number of SD cards that Comelec has to prepare it is very likely that it will make mistakes in the preparation of these SD cards. For example, the following erroneous election.xml file might be delivered to your precinct, together with the correctly printed ballots.

<contest no=”1″ name=”president”>
<cand row=”11″ column=”1″ no=”5″ name=”Roxas”></cand>
<cand row=”12″ column=”1″ no=”2″ name=”Defensor Santiago”></cand>
<cand row=”11″ column=”7″ no=”5″ name=”Roxas”></cand>
<cand row=”12″ column=”7″ no=”4″ name=”Poe”></cand>
<cand row=”11″ column=”13″ no=”5″ name=”Roxas”></cand>

Now with this erroneous election.xml file, together with the correctly printed ballots, all votes on the ballot that are for Binay, Duterte, and Roxas, will go to Roxas, both in the VCM internal count and in the receipt for the voter.

Fortunately, because the VCM will give the voter a receipt indicating the names he has selected for each elective position, the voter, on reading his receipt, can see any error in the assignment of vote mark to candidate. Unfortunately, even if he knows that an error has occurred, the error has already been included in the count for the precinct, and the most that he can do is file a complaint with the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI), who is required to enter the complaint in the Minutes of the Precinct. Since voters do not file election protests (although candidates do), there is no way of acting on voters’ complaints, and the injustice to the voter is never resolved.

It is because of the disenfranchising effect of this kind of error that I have written three times to Comelec, through the Local Source Code Review Committee, requesting Comelec to post all 2000+ distinct ballot faces and all 92,500+ election.xml files at the Comelec website, for the political parties and the public to review and to propose corrections of any errors discovered. After corrections have been made, the 92,500+ corrected election.xml files should be posted, together with their hash values, at the Comelec website. At the start of election day, as part of VCM initialization procedure, the hash value of the VCM program, and the hash value of the election.xml file should both be compared with the published known values. Without these hash value checking by the public, the automated election can not be trusted to properly count our votes. To date, Comelec has not granted our request to post these 92,500+ election.xml files.

Credits to Mr. Pablo Manalastas
Ateneo de Manila University

Do you agree with his findings?


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