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Opinion

The faulty Automated Election System

A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison - The Philippine Star

Up to now, talks are still ongoing about the elections. People cannot forget and are still entertaining doubts on the over-all results of said elections both in the national and local levels. To be sure, there were already glitches in the previous automated elections when we were using the vote counting machines of Smartmatic. Yet Comelec still persisted in using the same machines in the last elections even if Duterte himself had already ordered the replacement of Smartmatic in conducting our automated elections.

Although there is no proof of fraud and manipulations in the Automated Election System (AES), dirty talks and nasty speculations still continue to hound the minds of so many people. In fact, based on summary report on the election of 2019, there are many vote counting machines (VCMs) which malfunctioned. There are also findings of discrepancies in receipts generated by the machines as well as massive vote buying in various parts of the country.

After said election in 2019, some election experts already proposed that we adopt another system of conducting our election. Instead of the purely automated election system (AES), it had been suggested that we adopt a hybrid system where the actual voting and counting of votes will be manually done. Under this system the voters themselves will write the names of candidates for elective positions while the teachers will open the ballots and publicly count the votes in front of watchers and voters interested in finding out the actual results in their precincts. The automation will be concentrated only in the canvassing of votes cast nationally and locally so as to hasten the process of finding out the results and proclaiming the winners.

It is true that the Automated Election System (AES) requires a Random Manual Audit (RMA) which refers to the visual reading of votes on the paper ballots or its equivalent without the use of a machine, and a comparison of said results to the results generated by the machine count. Such RMA is in compliance with the mandate of the law on automated election and in the avowed policy of the State to ensure that the elections shall be transparent and credible and that the results shall be fast, accurate and reflective of the genuine will of the people. But as shown in the last election, said RMA did not truly result in a clean election. So, the proposal of the election experts should already be adopted in future elections.

VCM

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