Namfrel pushes for chronological listing of bets in ballots

Published August 31, 2021, 11:55 AM

by Leslie Ann Aquino

The National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) on Tuesday, August 31, proposed listing down candidates on ballots, not alphabetically by surname, but chronologically based on unique numbers assigned to each candidate in the May 2022 polls.


The poll watchdog group said this will do away with the practice of certain candidates having an alias just to be at the top or near the top of the list when sequencing is alphabetical.

Namfrel said the numbers may be drawn randomly at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in the presence of the candidates and parties or their representatives, and the assigned numbers announced to the public just before the start of the campaign.

“The numbers to be randomly assigned will be based on the number of candidates per position to be voted for,” the group said in a statement.

Namfrel believes that the proposal will make it easier for voters who cannot read or with poor eyesight “to be able to vote as they will just have to search for the numbers assigned to their chosen candidates.”

The group said it will also minimize the importance of name recall and the advantage of having well-known surnames during the campaign.

“As the candidates will be using their assigned numbers for the campaign, pre-election campaigning can be minimized as numbers assigned to the candidates can only be released by Comelec just before the start of the campaign period,” it said.

Namfrel said the proposal is a possible solution to having no votes, or undervotes, for the position of the vice president and party list, as voters will make sure that they will have the numbers of their chosen candidates on hand just before voting.

Aside from reformatting the ballot, Namfrel also proposed the use of open source election software for the Automated Election System (AES).

The group said this would open up the process to more prospective bidders for this component, instead of Comelec being usually tied up with the same company supplying the hardware.

It also proposed that the Comelec just use the election mark-up language (EML) format throughout the AES process to avoid possible delays and to increase the credibility of the results.

Namfrel also proposed the printing of QR codes on both the election returns (ER), and the voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) or the receipt that comes out of the vote counting machines after voting.

Having QR codes on both the ERs and the VVPAT, the group said, would facilitate audit check of the results, even right there in the polling precinct. Namfrel also called for the correct implementation of the digital signature.

The group said that the technology for such use of digital signatures is already available in the country, and that adopting said proposal could “ensure that electronic results can be verified as authentic, even if the vote counting machine (VCM) results were not able to be transmitted electronically, as is the case in many parts of the Philippines where internet signal is still poor.”

The proposals are part of a position paper entitled “Enhancing the AES with the Adoption and Implementation of Technical Standards,” that the group submitted to Comelec and to Congress for consideration as early as June this year.

Namfrel expressed hope that the proposals will be adopted by the Comelec for the 2022 national and local elections.