Elections 2010: What’s Going On?!?

by alex

In front of the Commission on Elections in Intramuros, Manila. Progressive partylist congresspersons (and two senatorial candidates) in the centre from Bayan Muna, Gabriela, and Anakpawis.

It has became apparent that the 2010 Philippine elections are in trouble.  

Today a coalition of church and progressive groups gathered in front of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC).

In case you haven’t been keeping up the elections are going to be historic.  If all goes well it will be the first ever automated election in the Philippines.  If all doesn’t go well, well, it might get ugly.

Progressive senatorial candidates Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza.

What we know so far:

– COMELEC announced a while back that it expects 30% of the Smartmatic election machines to fail–and that this was acceptable. “The Comelec has long said it is prepared for a 30-percent [failure rate]—in other words, that as many as 22,000-plus voting machines may malfunction or be inoperable on May 10.” [Inquirer.net]

– The machines failed in Hong Kong during the overseas vote in April.

– In the first major public tests in the Philippines (earlier this week!) the machine software malfunctioned giving all votes cast to the administration candidate.

– 76,000 machines need to have their software fixed between now and Monday 10 May 2010.

– There is little chance of a full manual count being done as it hasn’t been prepared for (and hiring all the people, getting all the forms ready, and having the money for it is a bit tough to do in four days).

Senatorial candidate Liza Maza.

As Liza Maza, currently a congresswoman for Gabriela Women’s Party and a senatorial candidate (who I would vote for if I could) says:

With only a few days to go… the automated elections with COMELEC’s partner Smartmatic have all gone problematic.  The Commission is liable for the serious doubts on the credibility of the elections, as well as for the looming irregularities and lack of contingency measures in the event that these errors and glitches have not been address.

It all seems a little odd doesn’t it?  That COMELEC had years to prepare for this election… and only now are they finding out their P10 billion machines bought abroad don’t work?

Seemingly, the stage is set for the elections to fail to pave the way for the extension of President Arroyo’s rule… (Rep. L. Maza)

I don’t know about you, but with this and the ‘hanging chad’ fiasco in the States in 2000, I have to give credit to Canada to just sticking with a simple manual count…

Over 7000 troops are descending on Manila to ensure 'peace and order.'

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In case you’re a reader from the Philippines or if you just want to learn more about the political groups present here (they could use your support if you have a vote, they’d have mine!), check out:

Satur Ocampo

Liza Maza


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All photos: ©2010 alex felipe  / All Rights Reserved.

Please contact the photographer with use inquiries.

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  1. During the planning and proposal stages of the automated elections in the Philippines, I participated in a live discussion moderated by a radio talk show host. And I remember speaking passionately about how onerous, at best, a ballot-fed voting machine would be.

    Among other things I highlighted were: a) possibility of software-rigged results; b) risk of paper jam whend feeding the paper ballots as operators would be constrained by time to get the next voter feed his ballot, etc. c) my little time and motion study suggested a very slow process, considering d) the numerous candidates and long list of party-lists that are jammed-packed on a 24-inch long ballot; e) the bad experience from the previous local elections where the polling precincts either opened late and closed early due to power outage OR the necessary election materials were still on its way to be delivered to them, etc.

    I was told that the geniuses who thought of this initiative were not planning for a ballot-fed machine, but instead a touch-screen voting machine. I was forced to accept this suggestion; but in hindsight, I think they realized how cumbersome a ballot-fed machine would be, hearing some of my arguments against it, that they offered such a crude response just to shut me up, I guess.

    Finally, when the methodology and hardware were announced to the public, I thought to my self that from the word get go, a distinct possibility of counting failure is present, thereby leading to election failure — and once again, the voters will be disenfranchized and robbed of their basic right to vote. Note that, at that point in time, there was no mention of funding or funding mechnism.

    By the way, on several occasions, I was a paid volunteer by Elections Canada and Elections Ontario as a poll clerk. The manual system of voting and counting was so simple and yet very efficient. It was a simple manual count of ballots received, ballots issued, ballots spoiled, ballots unused at closing time with witnesses from Elections Canada/Ontario, poll watchers from the official parties, agreeing and signing on the dotted lines the reconciled tally sheets of 4 copies: one fed to the newswire of major TV, Radio, and Newspaper networks, the Local Elections Registrar, the National/Provincial Elections Chief Registrar, and the Court.

    And within minutes, the results are announced by the TV and radio networks, the reporters/announcers giving a blow by blow, as it were, account of how the voting is shaping up and with the knowledge of official voters in a given legislative district, they are able to correctly predict the outcome of the result, all this time flashing on the TV screen the percentage of votes each candidate got, and then statistically predict the possible outcome of the result for each candidate and each party.

    Within an hour or so, the results, although not official yet, are known; and most candidates who have the slim chance of beating the odds of winning based on the statistical percentage concede and announce their acceptance of defeat.

    This inside information from a previous Elections Canada and Elections Ontario paid volunteer who witnessed to his amazement the simplicity and efficiency of such a well-organized manual voting system that stood the test of time … again and again!

  2. Thanks tito frank for this great input. I too was a poll watcher in Toronto and so fully concur, manual counting is the best way. And it boggles my mind that in the Phils it’s come to this mess….

  3. […] This year’s elections, however are no laughing matter.  There are (as expected) some MAJOR problems.  But we’ll have to wait until May 10th to see what really happens, until then read a report from our buddy Alex Felipe who is there right now: https://projectbalikbayan.wordpress.com/2010/05/06/elections2010/ […]

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