Cavite solon suggests automation of 2023 village, youth polls

Why not automate the Oct. 30, 2023 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections (BSKE)?

Cavite 4th district Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. (Facebook)

Cavite 4th district Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. floated this idea Wednesday, Jan. 25 with his filing of House Resolution (HR) No. 717.

The measure directs the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms, to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the "viability and feasibility of adopting the experimental use of the Automated Elections System (AES) in the ".

According to Barzaga, automating the upcoming village and youth polls will not only yield faster results and proclamation of winners but also "prevent human intervention or error and confusion in the appreciation of ballot on an experimental basis on the BSK Elections in large barangays preferably in Metro Manila".

"Automated elections have proven to be economical as it can accommodate up to more than 1,000 voters per clustered precinct as opposed to the 500 voters per precinct in manual elections which entails hiring more personnel in manual elections," the veteran solon said in his resolution.

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. last Oct.10, 2022 signed Republic Act (RA) No. 11935 moving the Dec. 5, 2022 BSKE to the Oct. 30, 2023 and holding succeeding elections every three years thereafter.

As of Oct. 2022, there are 42,022 barangays in the country, each of which has one Punong Barangay and seven Sangguniang Barangay members, one SK chairperson and seven members.

Barzaga, who chairs the House Committee on Natural Resources, said that since there will be two ballots for the BSKE, one for regular voters aged 18 and above and another one for SK voters aged 15 up to 30, the existing vote counting machines (VCMs) "can be refurbished and modified to accept two ballots from a single voter who qualifies to vote in both and the machines can tabulate separately the results of the BSKE".

Historically, the resolution said, manual elections "encounter numerous problems including the inaccurate counting, interpretation and appreciation of ballots, among others, and the consolidation of votes in bigger barangays usually take two to three days unlike in automated elections which immediately transmit the results to the canvassing center upon closing of the voting".

Barzaga pointed out that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has been lauded for its conduct of the May 9, 2022 national and local elections for having the fastest results and highest voter turnout since the Philippines adopted the AES in 2010. Moreover, the public has accepted the poll results.


In the 2022 national polls, 55,290,821 Filipinos voted out of the 65,745,526 number of registered voters--a 84.10 percent voter turnout, the lawmaker noted in his resolution.

The measure also cited that Comelec owned the 97,000 refurbished VCMs it purchased in 2016 and leased additional VCMs that were used in the conduct of the 2022 elections. A portion of these machines could be used in the BSKE in the pilot barangays.

Barzaga said that since the AES was utilized in the 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019 and the 2022 national and local elections, "Filipino voters are well-versed in using the same to cast their votes."