Comelec Voting Machines Can Count, but Can't Sniff Fraud or Fake

Manila Bulletin, August 18, 2008 | Go to article overview

Comelec Voting Machines Can Count, but Can't Sniff Fraud or Fake


The machines were good only in counting and summing up commands, ostensibly, a bit faster than the human hand.

These observations and the computers' limitation were voiced by the 22 foreigners who comprised the Asian Network for Free Elections delegation that stayed in the country for two weeks.

The foreigners' mission was to observe and report the ARMM elections in Mindanao -- specifically how the votes were cast, tallied and transmitted -- last August 11.

Two other local poll watchdogs accredited by the Comelec -- the Citizens Coalition for ARMM Electoral Reforms (Citizens CARE), Inc. and the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (Lente) -- made their respective assessments at a forum held last Thursday in Quezon City.

Also sharing their appraisal of the exercise were reporters of both print and broadcast (electronic) media who were sent to ARMM to cover the event.

Their overall summation had it that the "old tactics" waged by traditional politicians and their supporters were still being practiced and executed. How? "Cheating in the precincts, vote-buying, ballot-snatching, the use of flying voters (illegal registrants), multiple voting and proxy voting (there were photographs that showed 17-year-olds or even younger casting their votes) by minors," were enumerated as irregularities published in some major newspapers.

Apparently, all those high technology machines were helpless preventing the offenses.

There was one overriding concession, though: Poll violence like bodily harm, threats and intimidation were no longer prevalent.

And on the overall evaluation -- "a welcome improvement over the manual systems"

The machines used were identified as, (1) Direct Recording Electronic System (DRE) which uses touch-pad and touch-screen technologies; and, (2) Optical Mark Reader (OMR) technology, a paper ballotbased system that scans and and records the results into a database.

* * *

'CHA-CHA'/MoA. It did not carry much of the usual full-blown publicity that the Palace is wont to do when trumpeting an event held outside the country where the government was a participant. But when the people came to know about it late, they were simply asking -- what was it all about?

Nobody had a copy of the contract or whatever it was.

The secrecy that surrounded the Memorandum of Agreement between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front for the creation of the Bangsamoro Juridical Juridical Entity triggered massive protests across the archipelago.

Why keep it from the public? To think that the whole document was supposed to be signed (obviously, with all the fanfare!) in Kuala Lumpur last August 5. The "historic" moment was to be witnessed by a coterie of diplomats, among them, US Ambassador Kristie Kenney.

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Comelec Voting Machines Can Count, but Can't Sniff Fraud or Fake
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