electionAn automated election had brought about a number of issues, whether to provide the people with an accurate, reliable and honest election. Since the proposal and approval of holding an automated counting of votes for the first time in the country, a number of possible flaws had been exposed by certain groups like the use of signal jammers and a bunch of plausible factors that may lead to a possibility for a failure of elections. The COMELEC, on the other hand, has taken in measures that will decrease the worries of the public and to ensure a truthful election for everyone.

Recently, Information Technology (IT) professionals have expressed the need for a full manual counting alongside the automated counting of votes on Election Day due to many possibilities of cheating. These professionals have looked unto fraudulent activities during the previous elections and are open to the fact that it can also happen with the automated counting. According to them, the Precinct Count Optical Scanner (PCOS) machines can be manipulated and cheating programs can be placed in it that may lead to padding and shaving of votes. They also said that, even if this new trend in the voting process utilizes high technology, modern equipments and techniques; it is not an assurance that the system will be free from fraudulent activities. They mentioned that the proposal for a simplified parallel manual count will only involve the highest three positions namely the president, vice-president and the mayor. The votes of the manual counting would then be in comparison to that of the PCOS counts. If and when there is a deviation of more than eight votes then they would suggest a full manual counting for all positions. Their proposal is only to ensure that cheating will be avoided and to check the accuracy of the machines. They have urged COMELEC to decide on this very important matter and spare some time so that they can execute the proposal and concur on solutions to both legal and logistic concerns.

The IT professionals are not the only ones who are calling for a parallel manual count of the votes as more and more sectors have spoken to support such call. Recently, business groups such as the Makati Business Club (MBC) and Finance Executives of the Philippines (Finex) have expressed their support on manual counting alongside the automated counting during the election. These business groups have uttered the fear of relying exclusively on automated counting and the possibility of cheating that will not truthfully validate the credibility of the results. Just like what the Information Technology experts have proposed, these business groups wanted the manual counting to be done on the top three positions. They also said that if and when a discrepancy of a single percent takes place, then a full manual counting should be done for all the positions to ensure accuracy and credibility. A number of flaws had also been enumerated by the representatives of these business groups which include similar flaws stated by the IT experts. They also made clear that they are not trying to stain the reputation of automated elections but instead, they are only trying to establish its effectiveness and capability of providing an honest and credible election for the Filipinos.

Candidates running for different positions in the government have also their stand on parallel manual counting. Six out of nine presidentiables have stated their support on the matter. One of these presidentiables, who stated his support, is Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer Senator Benigno “noynoy” Aquino III. He had said that official ballots may have a possibility of being tampered, which may be visible with the naked which would result to its rejection by the machine. He also wanted the COMELEC to be transparent with their plans on the May 10 polls. Only three presidential candidates did not support the call for a parallel manual counting namely Senator Manny Villar (Nacionalist Party), Gilberto Teodoro ( Lakas-Kampi) and Richard Gordon. According to Senator Manny Villar, conducting the parallel manual counting on May 10 is too late for implementation because Election Day is fast approaching. He also stated that such proposal is already impossible and should have been pushed long before to ensure an honest and orderly election.

The COMELEC, on the other hand, has studied the proposals but according to COMELEC spokesman James Gimenez, the lack of time will make it impossible to execute. He also stated that a parallel manual count for 75,340 precincts is not easy and should be studied well. He also said that it has logistical and cost ramifications and personnel implications, and it’s a complicated thing. The COMELEC has been working around the clock for the poll preparations, and they are making sure they achieve their goal of having a credible election for everyone. The COMELEC also said that a parallel manual counting would no longer be necessary since a random manual audit is good enough. Malacañang has also supported the COMELEC against parallel manual counting stating that it would only result in chaos.