Poll automation lessons
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2009-05-11

After all the glitches that were encountered in this election, it is now clear that Gus Lagman and all those who were advocating for partial automation were right. And all those like Teddyboy Locsin and Dick Gordon who embraced the full automation mode we used should accept their mistakes.

It is too early to say whether we will have credible election results. Let’s hope we do because the possible consequences if we do not are scary, to say the least. The way the public has been conditioned by the many fumbles in the automation process — fueled by all the speculations on automated cheating — hardly allows the Comelec (Commission on Elections) elbow room for error. A major failure can only sharpen public perception that this poll automation was conceived to perpetuate the status quo.

Many wondered why we were suddenly rushing towards full automation. The Gus Lagman proposal was safer in that there is a visible proof as to who won and lost. The way things went, we were all made to trust a fully automated process despite all the possibilities that machines can be programmed or hacked to produce results that are quite different from the real vote.

Those who pushed for full automation overlooked many important considerations which make some folks wonder if there is indeed a hidden agenda at play. Among the more important of these considerations are the following:

1. It is the height of irresponsibility to have trusted in full automation when we have not even experienced undertaking a successful partial automation. It is like entrusting your child to a total stranger.

2. It is the height of recklessness to go full automation when many parts of the country are technologically challenged and most of the voters are clueless as to how the new system works. This is like pinning your hopes on a pipe dream. No right thinking executive would have made such a high risk decision.

3. It is the height of arrogance to have expected our people to trust the Comelec with full automation when the lessons of the 2004 and 2007 cheating operations showed the involvement of Comelec officials. Partial automation would have at least provided our people an idea of the real and verifiable tally at precinct level.

4. It is the height of stupidity not to have prepared for a Plan B — a parallel manual count — after the delays and glitches have happened. Instead of providing a Plan B, our Comelec officials utilized their time and energies in trying to rationalize the fumbles and reassure the public that all is well in automation fantasyland.

If this election turns out to be our worst feared scenario of “automated Garci” — it is only fair that the people behind this full poll automation folly should be made to account. They cannot feign ignorance of the possible consequences of their folly. IT experts like Gus Lagman have time and again raised the alarm and explained the pitfalls and dreadful scenarios that can happen with full poll automation.

If this was Japan and the worst case election scenario unfolded, those Comelec Commissioners and their sponsors in the Congress and the Senate would be slashing their stomachs as the ultimate atonement gesture to the nation. But because we are in the Philippines fat chance that we will even see any of them admit their mistakes. So, don’t even expect a token gesture of atonement from them.

We are a great nation but one of the worst led. Over here nobody ever admits to being incompetent, a crook, a murderer or just simply evil. The biggest plunderers and known fornicators even like to have themselves shown on media receiving Holy Communion. And they even seem to have some officials of the Catholic Church under their influence.

Following is a WISH LIST that your Chair Wrecker made in the hope that this early we can resolve our election issues way before the 2013 elections.

1. The new president should order a thorough review of the electoral process to pinpoint the mistakes, flaws and so forth.

2. The Comelec officials — all the Commissioners should tender their resignation to the new president in order to provide a fresh start and perspective to solving the problem. To begin with, they did a bad job so they should not bother us with the usual bovine ordure of why they should not resign. If they don’t offer to resign, then impeach them. There are more than enough grounds to justify their impeachment.

3. Craft a new law to govern the 2013 national and local elections so that whatever reforms are instituted can be started soonest.

4. Continue voter education on poll automation. The education must input how the voters can ensure there is no election fraud via “electronic Garci” or whatever other high tech means. Generally, voters want to protect their votes. But how can they if they are clueless as to how high tech cheating is done?

5. The new voting system must provide for an adequate Plan B.

Let’s all remain vigilant and ensure that, despite all the problems, the real sentiment of the Filipino people will be upheld and reflected in the elections results.

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  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

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Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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