7-hour delay revives old poll proposal


e-cartoon-may-22-2019There was a seven-hour delay in  the  transmission  of  early election results   on  Election Day by the Commission on  Elections’ transparency server  to the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible  Voting (PPCRV).

The  official  Comelec  count, with all its official  requirements,  may take longer to determine, but the transparency server is supposed to provide  the initial results, even if unofficial,  immediately to the PPCRV. This is part of the system to  inform  the public  in the earliest possible  time how  the voting went.

The single most  important  reason  for our  shift  to automated elections was the swift reporting  of results. In the old manual system,  it  would  take weeks, even months,  before results  from  the remote provinces  of the country could be relayed to Manila.  With  automated  elections, it should take just hours.

Bu what happened  last Election Day  -- a seven-hour delay in reporting  advanced  results to the PPCRV – has now raised questions and  suspicions. The  Comelec explanation  is that  the reporting system was overwhelmed  by the volume of data. But  wasn’t  this possibility planned for, so that the problem  could have  been  swiftly solved, within an hour, if not minutes, and not the seven hours that it took last Monday?

Aside  from  the big time gap in the reporting of  initial poll results, many opposition sectors have now raised  other questions. The  Akbayan  said so many  voters were disenfranchised  because  of  the malfunction  of  several vote-counting machines.  A group in Marawi City charged that many ballots were  preshaded  to favor certain candidates in  Lanao  del  Sur.

But  it  is the seven-hour delay in reporting advanced results  to the PPCRV that raises the most questions.  There is no  proof  that election returns  were tampered with  during the seven-hour period,  but  computer experts agree that the possibility is there.

The one great reason we shifted  from  manual  to automated  elections was the swiftness  with which  the nation could learn who had won and who had lost.  There should be no seven-hour  delay such as what happened in the last  elections.

When our officials make a review of all that happened last Monday, and  considering  the fears and suspicions  that  have been raised in all the previous  automated elections since 2010, they might want to reconsider the old proposal of combining a  manual  count of votes in each precinct, with  automated transmission  of the results to the national  center.

 This way, a least,  people  would  see  an  actual precinct count,  not just a voting machine spewing out a final unquestioned  precinct tally. There would be a measure of transparency,  which  is not  found in today’s  totally automated elections.