Compel Comelec to issue voting receipts, SC urged

MANILA, Philippines – Senatorial candidate Richard “Dick” Gordon and his political party, Bagumbayan, ran to the Supreme Court (SC) to compel the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to issue voting receipts on election day.

In a petition filed on Monday, February 22, Gordon and Bagumbayan requested the SC to order the Comelec to implement the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT).

The VVPAT basically refers to the system of issuing receipts from vote-counting machines once a person has voted. 

The Comelec voted 7-0 against the VVPAT because politicians can use the receipts in vote-buying, and issuing receipts can add 5-7 hours to the voting time in election precincts.

Former elections chief Sixto Brillantes Jr said that in previous elections, two other sets of Comelec members also voted 7-0 against the VVPAT.

Still, Gordon and Bagumbayan asserted that “it would be a grave error” to refuse including the VVPAT in the automated election system.

They wrote in their petition: “In mandating the institution and impelmentation of the VVPAT, it is the clear and unequivocal intent of Congress to give every voter the right and capability to confirm and verify whether or not the voting machine had indeed read his or her ballot correctly based on the choice of the voting citizen.”

VVPAT among minimum requirements

“Thereafter and in case of any doubt, the electronically generated results of an election can then be audited and verified through a comparison thereof with these paper records,” they said. 

Gordon and Bagumbayan said implementing the VVPAT will “prevent a travesty of the May 9, 2016 elections through flagrant and unconscionable violations of the automated election laws.” 

Gordon chairs the Bagumbayan party and is a former Olongapo City mayor.

Also a former senator, the 70-year-old Gordon authored the amended automated election system law, or Republic Act 9369.

This law includes the VVPAT under the “minimum system capabilities” of the automated election system.

Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez, for his part, said the poll body “will have to wait and see” how the SC responds to this new petition.

Jimenez added, “Just to reiterate, the decision to disable this feature was not taken lightly.” 

“A long period of consultation and public demonstration was undertaken, as well as several time-and-motion studies, all of which indicated that the use of the ‘receipt’ would have adverse effects on the voting process,” the Comelec spokesman said. – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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