After months of campaigning, mudslinging, backstabbing, shitty political jingles that keep on playing on our heads and electoral violence, last Monday, the Philippines held it's very first automated election. A lot of people have been skeptical about the election, especially since the Commission on Elections and it's partner, the IT firm Smartmatic-TIM are having some troubles regarding schedules as well as the set-up of the machines needed for the automated polls, specifically on the week before the elections. And on election day itself, reports of long queues, broken machines, vote buying, and in some areas violence and intimidation, have been heard from the radio and seen from the TV.
But regardless, the election was generally seen as a success and many people were able to vote despite the problems faced during the day. The process is simple and fast; just shade the ovals that corresponds to the people/partylist you wish to vote for and once you're done just go to the machine and insert it there. Once the machine fully accepts the ballot, you're done with the voting. It's really simple, easy, fast and efficient.
What's more pleasing and surprising is the speed at which the votes are counted. from the usual 2-3 weeks, the COMELEC and it's partner the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting or PPCRV was able to tabulate the votes coming from over 80% of all clustered precincts within a span of 4 - 5 days. That is already a huge increase in speed considering that in past elections, back when the system of counting and canvassing was still manual, it took COMELEC weeks before they could reach that amount of precincts. In fact, the canvassing and counting was so fast that last Saturday, COMELEC already declared winners for 9 posts in the senate and last week, there were multiple declarations of winners of the local and congressional seats in different cities, municipalities and provinces in the country. Also, because of the fast speed of the transmission of the election results, many were able to see who is leading in the Presidential and Vice Presidential race. Currently, for the Presidential race, Senator NoyNoy Aquino is leading, while for the Vice Presidential race, Current Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay is leading, but his rival Senator Mar Roxas is not far behind.
Although the fast pace of the canvassing/counting of votes may have amazed all of us and even the foreign observers, still there are some who still claim that there are inconsistencies with the election. Some candidates have filed electoral protests on grounds that they were cheated, others even called out press conferences regarding how the COMELEC actually did the elections and how they felt that they were "cheated" during the elections. But those are actually expected. No system is perfect, whether it be automated or manual counting. It's really certain that inconsistencies will occur during the entire electoral process, so I'm not really surprised that there are complaints and protests filed here and there, although it has decreased.
But one very interesting thing about the automated counting of the elections is that, some candidates have decided to concede in favor of those whom the majority has voted. This is something that has impressed many people since never have the people seen candidates who actually concede and accept defeat rather than complain because they think they were cheated. Quoting a friend, "In the past, there were no losers, only cheaters, today there are no losers, only gentlemen." It's great to see that old rivals stepped aside their issues with their contenders and conceded to the will of the people, especially Manny Villar. Before, I despised him because he is using the poor for his own gain, but at the same time he's avoiding the issues thrown at him, but now, he has somewhat regained my respect because he conceded like a gentleman and accepted his fate. A number of candidates have also said that they conceded, although some did retract their announcement a few days later.
Personally though, election day was a fun experience, although I was amazed by how fast the process is. As in, me and my family voted at around 5 pm. Thank god for COMELEC extending voting hours until 7 pm. When we arrived at the gymnasium where the voting was held, there were virtually no lines, so going in is a breeze. Voting was also a breeze since all I needed to do is to show my voter's id, my school id, fill up the ballot sheet and cast my vote on the PCOS machine. It was fast and efficient. The funny part though was the indelible ink. When it was still wet and exposed to the sun, it colored yellow green, but when washed it's color changed to purple. Annoying part though is that the ink stayed for a few days but meh, it's slowly being erased. Besides, during the process I haven't encountered anyone who wanted to buy my vote, then again considering the number of people in our precinct during the time we voted, I doubt that anyone will do that.
All in all, despite the current and future problems that the COMELEC and it's partners are experiencing, personally I do think that they were successful in pulling off the first ever automated elections. Although now we're just waiting for congress to convene to officially declare who are the winners for the presidential/vice presidential races (blame the constitution for that), still given the fast counting/canvassing of the votes as well as quick updates given by both COMELEC and PPCRV, it won't be long until we can see who the people have chosen to be their future president and vice president.
As for me, I voted NoyNoy Aquino and Mar Roxas as my president and vice president, respectively. No regrets, because I know that they have the capacity to lead this country and inspire the people to help each other out to solve the different problems this country has, especially Mar. kekekeke.
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CreditsMade By June Parreno 11/05/05