Comelec to SC: ‘Costs’ of vote receipts not worth it
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) told the Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday morning, March 17, that the “marginal improvement” of issuing receipts from vote-counting machines (VCMs) is not worth the costs that it entails.
Representing the Comelec during oral arguments on Thursday, Solicitor General Florin Hilbay said, “These substantial unanticipated costs are too high a price to pay for the marginal improvement of enabling the voter’s receipt feature of the VCMs.”
“Let me reiterate, your Honors: Voter’s receipts will have little impact on the credibility of the 2016 elections,” Hilbay said.
Hilbay said issuing voting receipts, in fact, can heighten the “risk of an election failure.”
He added that issuing voting receipts, for one, can extend the voting period to up to 20 hours.
It can also present “new opportunities for cheating,” as politicians can use the receipts in vote-buying.
He said issuing voting receipts can result, as well, in “a degraded voter experience” that can drive voters away from polling places, as well as “an increased incidence of machine malfunction and failure.”
Comelec: We can issue receipts in 2019
Hilbay then urged the SC to “reconsider its decision and not incur these costs – a good choice.”
The Comelec, as an alternative, can also issue voting receipts in the 2019 elections if the SC agrees. Hilbay proposed that the SC “declare that its decision in this case is prospective in character, and therefore should be implemented by the Comelec in the 2019 elections – a reasonable choice.”
The SC on March 8 ordered the Comelec to issue voting receipts.
The High Court issued this ruling based on a petition filed by senatorial candidate Richard Gordon and his political party, Bagumbayan, to compel the Comelec to issue voting receipts.
The Comelec failed to comment on Gordon and Bagumbayan’s petition and thus partly lost by default. (READ: Why Comelec failed to defend itself before SC: ‘We were busy’)
This thrust the Comelec into a state of emergency, which, according to the poll body, might force it to hold manual polls or to postpone the elections to the first week of June. – Rappler.com
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