By JONALYN FORTUNO and PAULINE DYCOCO
WHILE Monday’s polls have been deemed successful, an election watchdog said the automation failed in at least one area: the transmission of votes.
“While the counting is speedy, the transmission is not,” said Roan Libarios of Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE) at a press conference held in Manila yesterday. About 5 to 10 percent of the municipal canvassing boards failed to transmit on time.
In the past three days, reports of problems with transmission and defective compact flash cards have stalled the tally at the municipal and provincial levels, delaying the proclamation of candidates. Before the the polls, the Commission on Elections had announced that results will be known in 48 hours.
LENTE also said Comelec failed to meet the expected 85-percent voter turnout because of the queuing problem. By its estimates, 10 percent of voters ended up leaving the precincts when waiting proved too long.
“In some areas, it took three to four hours before a voter could finally vote,” said Libarios. He added for the next polls, Comelec should increase the number of precincts.
LENTE chairperson Christian Monsod said despite the glitches, the public has accepted a new voting process and is in fact satisfied with the speedy results. The voters seem to trust the accuracy of machines, he added, dismissing fears that the PCOS machines could be hacked.
“Despite the grim scenarios raised, we somehow managed to pull it off,” added Libarios. Lente also gave the teachers or the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) a “high mark” for a job well done.
Monsod also dismissed fears of a possible hacking because Comelec has installed proper safeguards to detect internal rigging.
But in a Social Weather Stations survey in February, 46 percent of the people believed the machines could be sabotaged to fake the election results; 25 percent disagreed. The remaining 27 percent were undecided.
The next step, according to Lente, is to hold accountable people who committed fraudulent acts.
Lente said vote-selling and vote-buying are the most reported election violation. Cheating, coercion and intimidation also topped the list.
“Anonymous complaints should be backed up with strong evidence and witnesses so that members of Lente will be able to file it and have Comelec to investigate it,” said Lente co-convenor Carlos Medina.
The ‘other card’
In another press conference in Makati yesterday, Alberto Lim of the Makati Business Club presented the “other card” that could boost the credibility of the recently held automated polls.
The “other card” is a survey that will reflect the “voter preference” to be conducted “as close as possible to the elections.”
The objective, he said, is to use the results of this survey with the exit polls of groups like Pulse Asia and the Comelec results, or what he called a “triangulation.”
“If the numbers are close to each other then there will be an established integrity and credibility of the results,” explained Lim. “If cheating occurred, this could be shown in a credible way (through the study).”
The authors are students of Bicol University doing their summer internship at VERA Files.