THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez - The Freeman

With the mid-term elections drawing ever closer, the fears of massive cheating has once again set in. It has not helped that the Comelec’s mock elections held in several parts of the country was marred with glitches ranging from PCOS machines that would not turn on, ballots that would jam or would not outright feed into the machines to technicians coming to work late! But according to Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes, the glitches were considered minor and were easily remedied without delaying or affecting the electoral process. I wonder how a machine that won’t turn on right away would not affect the electoral process?

But what worries people the most is the use of jamming devices that would delay or block the transmission or election results to the Comelec. Again, chairman Brillantes allays their fears by saying that for the devices to work, they have to be very close to the PCOS machines, which would immediately attract attention from election watchers. Kind of reminds me of the first Mission Impossible movie where a signal jammer was used on a cellphone. He did have to be close to the cellphone to work. And if ever there was a successful delaying or blocking of the signal, then the results can be sent to the Comelec right away via courier.

It may seem that chairman Brillantes has all the bases covered, but in an election, especially in the Philippines where cheating is more the rule than the exception, any delay is an opportunity for problems. A delay in the transmission of election results may be enough reason for a candidate that’s trailing in the polls to make enough noise that creates an atmosphere of doubt about the whole election! And one thing about Philippine elections is that it is always easy to believe in massive cheating.

The Comelec will take all the glitches into account and come up with the appropriate measures so as to avoid them in May. With regards to the signal jammers, the government has already banned the importation of said devices. I would also suggest that voters should not have any sort of bag with them during voting, and a cordon sanitaire of sorts be in place once transmission takes place. Watchers will have to be eagle-eyed and watch out for possible signal jammers camouflaged within people. Filipinos can be oh so ingenious!

Even with all that said, the fear of massive cheating is still in the minds of watchdog groups alike. The fact that there are glitches seems enough for them to doubt the integrity of the machines, and the honesty of the elections as a whole. Especially with some of the candidates vying for positions once again! Old habits die hard.

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