The search for a new elections system provider has practically started after President Rody Duterte made a statement about removing even a tinge of doubt in the periodic, balloting which Smartmatic unfortunately has not provided.
“The President said that the integrity of the polls is non-negotiable and the smallest whiff of doubt is enough to replace the current provider of the voting system.
Of course, the reason for the entry of the automated elections system (AES) was that the manual count of the past was tainted with rigging allegations that practically took away hope for a credible political exercise.
The same doubts have returned and are building up as a result of the glitches and the sudden system breakdowns in the middle of the tally.
Again the credibility of the ballots is again in question amid the probability of automated fraud.
Thus, the confidence of voters was doubly eroded now realizing that, manual or automated, the people’s will was never fully reflected in the counting of the ballot.
Rody is one of the doubters and for a valid reason, since his camp believes that at least three million votes were taken away from him in the 2016 presidential race, which he managed to overcome with a landslide vote.
Among the worthy proposals as an alternative to the current system is a hybrid scheme which allies of the President favor.
The proposal according to the proponents would primarily be intended to return confidence in the ballot.
After the 2016 polls, the hybrid system was used in the barangay elections, which according to then Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez indicated that people still wanted to see tangible tallying of votes instead of relying on machine computations.
“The people may have missed staying on guard for their votes to be counted,” according to some allies of the President.
The automation will still be employed for canvassing and transmission of the tally, according to the proposal.
The option being looked into by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) will likely be piloted for the 2022 elections. The proposal is for an “automated manual counting” system which does not only promote transparency, but can also deliver results five hours after the actual voting.
Several allies of the President in the Senate indicated a plan to file an amendment to the AES to allow a manual component.
Most elected officials support the idea. Senators, for instance, noted that in hybrid elections, cheating may only happen in the barangay or precinct levels, unlike in a fully automated polls where fraud can be “wholesale” through technological wizardry.
The President said that the integrity of the polls is non-negotiable and the smallest whiff of doubt is enough to replace the current provider of the voting system.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec), while independent, will have to consider the observations of the President since they carry the weight of all the 60 million voters who again have to be frustrated with the inefficiency of the automated system.
The Comelec can’t issue the excuse that it needed a legal basis to ban Smartmatic since it had not complied with the requirements of its contract.
“The legal basis: if you have not done efficiently what you’re supposed to do. That’s the legal basis,” presidential spokesman Sal Panelo said.
“The President’s position is very clear. There have been allegations of certain glitches that somehow affect the impression that Smartmatic is competent to handle the server,” Panelo said.
It all boils down, however, to the public seeing their votes counted from the precinct level which will have little effect on the speed of the tally since the transmission and all components up to the results being made public will all be automated.
The return of the confidence of voters in the system may just be the priceless reward of a hybrid system.