COTANGENT – By Daphne Cardillo
Finally, after years of apprehension, speculations, and dissension, the Philippines succeeded in holding its first nationwide automated elections. And even with the few glitches concerning the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines, the long lines of people due to the clustering of precincts and other minor setbacks, the May 10, 2010 national elections was generally fair, clean, and peaceful. Plus very fast it gave us a pleasant surprise.
The automated election that Monday was an inspiring event in our nation’s history. The quick turn-out of votes signaled the empowering of a long-manipulated but ever-persevering populace. I was up the whole night monitoring the election results and it was awesome to learn that by 11:11p.m., or four hours after the polling precincts were closed, 57% of the election returns were tabulated.
Modern technology, at last, paved the way for the efficient and quick counting of votes. Even the filling up of ballots was made speedier with simple shading, just like what we do in most national exams. And the fast tabulation of election returns assured the people that their votes were truly counted. There wasn’t much time to manipulate the election results.
Automation has given us hope for an honest election where the true will of the people triumphs. Our countrymen will now feel a sense of confidence and importance as their voices are rightly heard and counted. And being rightly heard and counted will give them the impetus to involve more fully in nation building. Being rightly heard and counted will give them a sense of power to effect changes in their localities.
Automation has given us hope that democracy will work in our setting, even as we struggle to restructure an unjust social order against the odds of a strong culture of class, family, and clan. In a democracy, the rule of law must prevail and the individual is the measure, and not loyalty to one’s class, family or clan. In a democracy, the voice of the people is supreme and must prevail.
Automation, likewise, has reduced the drama – of flying voters, ballot switching, ballot snatching, more killings and violence, dagdag-bawas and other forms of manipulation of the votes. The old manual system with its many days of canvassing allowed more crimes to be committed. Campaign violations, pre-election violence, vote-buying are enough. And voting is now strict and streamlined.
If poll automation will be properly conducted in this country, I think some of our people will no longer allow themselves to be bought simply because their votes are rightly counted. Unlike before when many have lost trust in the whole electoral process and couldn’t care less who wins. The sense of power an honest election offers makes one value his single vote.
Like computerization in our offices, business establishments, and other official or even personal transactions, I was really for an automated election. We simply have to make a start – with or without errors. The objective and factual account of a computer does not only relieve us of the agony of manual work, among other things, but teaches us about honesty and transparency. And the new system can be improved in each electoral exercise.
Then finally, automating our election could be a great leveler for majority of the Filipinos. Like the internet which equalizes the people of the world, poll automation shall likewise equalize our individual votes.
May 14, 2010