Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Trustworthiness seen in poll automation, survey says

Manila Bulletin

Filipinos find the country's first automated presidential elections more reliable and dependable compared to the manual voting process that they’ve been used to in the past, according to the results of the recently-concluded survey of Manila Bulletin Online.

The said poll conducted in February in light with the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) nationwide testing of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines, asked netizens “Do you think you can trust the automated elections more than the manual procedure?”

The results showed 66 percent of MB Online’s web visitors saying “Yes,” while the remaining 34 percent expressed doubts on the said method.

“Para sa’kin, mas mabilis ‘yung resulta and lesser ang possibility ng error compared dun sa old process,” said April Bustamante, a medicine student of University of Santo Tomas, during an online interview. “Based on my experience, kapag election laging nawawalan ng kuryente. Since automated na, with or without power, mapapabilis ang process at lesser ang dayaan.”

Interestingly, however, people who have been working thru the Internet said that they find it hard to trust the poll automation process, mainly because of the culture of corruption in the country.

”Hindi siya mapapagkatiwalaan; for sure ‘yang mayayaman na mga politiko ay gagawa ng paraan para makapangdaya pa rin,” says Michael Ferrer, a graphic artist for Cosmic Technologies.

“Although mas matrabaho ang manual elections, I guess candidates will find ways para makapangdaya sila,” explained Ana Terese Junio, an Information, Education and Communications (IEC) Officer from a leading television network. “The good thing about automated voting is less yung ‘mapapahamak as teachers don’t have to bring ballot boxes from one place to another.”

Chamela Caguiat, a nurse from a public hospital in Muntinlupa City, emphasized on the need to deliberately eradicate the notion of political wickedness abound in the country today. “It (automation) will just speed up the counting process, but it will still remain dirty!” she echoed.

The series of power outages in various parts of the country, apparently due to the growing energy crisis, has also been a cause of concern for the voting population, with some getting alarmed on the timing of these power interruptions.

“There’s a lot of loopholes in the system. Idagdag pa ‘yung series of brownouts, for sure this year's election will be chaotic,” says Eros Arbilon, lead vocalist of the band “Away for the Day”.

Some of them also noted the lack of preparations on the part of the concerned authorities with regards to addressing the worries that voters have constantly been raising. “Maraming puwede mangyari, but I think they (Comelec) are not very well-prepared to deal with it pa,” according to Kimberly Go, an audiologist, referring to the lack of effective voters’ education campaign by the poll body.

“Mas madaling ma-alter ‘yung votes or mandaya lalo na kung ang process is aided by technology, “says Rea Ann Santos, a communications officer. “Kung siguro ang goal ay mapabilis ‘yung counting, maganda nga. Pero ang mas importanteng concern is kung mas makakaiwas sa dagdag-bawas.”

The upcoming elections have now painted an interesting scenario as the country braces for the first-ever automated elections in history. Authorities remain confident that everything will be fine and that they have enough plans and resources to get things done and tow the nation towards another colorful chapter.

Meanwhile, a new survey has been posted on MB Online asking web visitors “what specific problem would you like the next Philippine president to address first?” Log in to the Manila Bulletin homepage to view the poll question and share your thoughts on the said topic.

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