‘Modernizing’ the elections

Adrian E.. Cristobal

MODERNIZING’’ is a nice sounding substitution for “clean, honest, and orderly elections,’’ but it really refers to how the Commission on Elections will conduct the registration and counting of votes. Citizens dream of it, politicians talk a lot about it, but it’s a nightmare for many disenfranchised voters, who are never sure that they and their votes are counted at all.

Almost every administration promises “election reforms,’’ but even now, with “modernization,’’ another term for “computerization,’’ the “credibility’’ of the coming elections is still doubtful. “Maverick’’ Vice President Teofisto Guingona gave the reason to a packed audience at the traditional MOPC (Manila Overseas Press Club) “Vice President’s Night.’’

Of the three phases in the Comelec’s “modernization program,’’ Guingona raised doubts about the legality of two phases – the validation of the voters’ list and the automated counting of ballots.

He pointed out that the procedure adopted by the Comelec for the registration and validation of voters had no basis in law. The law says that those who voted in one of the last three elections are qualified to vote, but the Comelec says they have to register again. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to vote in the coming presidential elections.

The Comelec also suspended continuing registration, which raises the question of what it’s doing in the long intervals between elections. Perhaps, the answer is in the joke related by Guingona about an American and a Filipino voter. The American was bragging that in the US, they knew the election results hours after the precincts closed, to which the Filipino replied that we knew the results even two months before the canvassing of votes!

This is the specter Guingona raised about Phase 3, the automated counting of votes. He recalled that the law specified “Stand Alone’’ machines for the counting, but the Comelec procedure transmits the results the precinct level to the municipal hall, from which they are automatically transmitted to the Comelec in Manila. According to Guingona, the program can be easily “modified.’’

But why go through that rigmarole when you could just simply input the desired results even before the elections?

22/10/2003

Bron : The Manila Bulletin Online

Archief - Home