MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections tests the voting system for the country’s second automated elections. But Saturday’s mock polls see low voter turnout and counts that don’t match.
Paterno Esmaquel reports. (Watch video report below.)
The Comelec calls the mock elections a success. But the machine and manual counts don’t match.
A committee finds 15 discrepancies between the PCOS count and the manual audit. In a resolution, Comelec allows a margin of error of only 10 votes.
Despite the contradicting results, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez refuses to call the mock elections a failure. He says he wouldn’t discount error on the part of auditors.
JAMES JIMENEZ, COMELEC SPOKESMAN
Kasi personally again, may nakita nga kami kung saan ‘yung balota, meron siyang markang alam namin na hindi babasahin ng makina, pero minark down ng auditor as a valid mark. And then there are other instances like that, errors, you know, people were working for more than 4 hours straight. So medyo ‘yung iba sa kanila, pagod na.
(Because personally, we saw some instances when auditors validated marks that the machine would invalidate. And then there were other instances like that, errors, that involved people working for more than 4 hours straight. So some of them might have been tired already.)
The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting chairman, Tita de Villa, heads the random manual audit committee. In a phone interview with Rappler, De Villa admits there will always be a mismatch between the automated count and the manual audit.
She says “They can never tally, it’s really impossible. But as much as possible, what we wanted to do is to improve on the 2010 random manual audit.”
Aside from these discrepancies, the mock elections encounter some glitches. Ballot-counting machines in UP reject the first 3 ballots. The Comelec ends up using a back-up machine.
Few voters join the mock elections.
At UP, less than a fifth of registered voters participate. The turnout is also low at the Ponciano Bernardo High School in Crame, one of the two biggest precincts for the activity.
PATERNO ESMAQUEL, REPORTING
There were very few voters here this morning, a measly 4% of the expected voter turnout at the Ponciano Bernardo High School in Crame. But as we can see here now, there are lots of voters arriving at 2 pm. They were reportedly brought here by a vehicle by a barangay kagawad. It says a lot about a voting system that sometimes has to force – or even pay – its people to vote.
But for voters who arrived, the mock elections train them well for D-Day.
MIKE AGCAOILI, FIRST-TIME VOTER
Karapatan din naman naming bumoto para sa kabataan ding ano. Dahan-dahan lang namin sinasanay ang sarili namin habang dumarating tayo sa edad na ano.
(It is also our right to vote, as part of the youth. We are gradually training ourselves for the time when we have to vote.)
BERNARDINA RUELO, 66 YEARS OLD
Bakit matatakot? Hindi naman nakakatakot… Mas madali nga ngayon eh. Noong araw, sinusulatan ang mga balota. Ngayon, shine-shade-an mo lang ang mga bilog doon.
(Why would we be afraid? It’s not scary… It’s even easier now. In the past, we had to write on our ballots. Now, we just have to shade the ovals there.)
One thing this activity shows… getting the count right on May 13 will not depend entirely on the machines. It’s also about the people who run it… and the voting public.
Paterno Esmaquel, Rappler, Manila
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