(image via the group 2010 Philippine Election on Facebook)
Some 50 million Filipinos are expected to go to polling precincts today (May 10 2010) for the Philippines’ first-ever automated elections. At stake are 17,999 positions from the municipal to the national level. Most important is the hotly-contested post of President who will succeed Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, now the second longest-serving Philippine President after Ferdinand Marcos.
Like most civic-minded Filipinos, I pray that the elections will be generally peaceful and honest. I do have my doubts about these ‘high-tech’ elections, especially with earlier tests of PCOS machine malfunctions. Still, I hope that the final results will be reflective of the will of the majority of the voting Filipino people.
I particularly doff my hat off to the tireless army of volunteers in today’s political exercise and to my media friends (both online and mainstream) who will do the hard work of reporting the voting/counting process every step of the way.
Of particular concern to me is this particular confidential report I received which listed several problems in the automated elections. The problems are divided into 1) process 2) people and 3)technology. They include the following:
– Lack of contingency plan in case of systems breakdown due to force majeure, civil disturbance and other factors
– Lack of guidelines for conducting the Random Manual Audit, as required by law
– the possibility of power failure (blackouts) hindering the work of the PCOS (precinct count optical scan) machines
– Ballots are printed using the Portable Document Format (PDF) without any security feature like ultraviolet marks. The PDF file and barcode can easily be mass-produced
– The teachers who will operate the PCOS machines and explain the long ballot to the voters have not been sufficiently oriented and trained
– the ever-present threat of computer hackers and cellphone jammers
Hopefully, these problems will be overcome and there won’t be the so-called “failure of elections” which could turn things for the worst. After all, the world is watching. God bless the Philippines!