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Poll reform advocates warn on ‘shading’ issue

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By Leslie Ann Aquino

Electoral reform advocates on Sunday warned that changing the shading threshold of ballots from 25 percent to 50 percent in the ongoing vice-presidential ballot recount will disenfranchise voters.

Presidential Electoral Tribunal

Presidential Electoral Tribunal

“The ruling would grossly violate the rights of all voters in the 2016 elections as their votes that had already been duly counted and canvased would be invalidated,” Dindo Manhit, President of Stratbase ADRi, an independent think tank, said in statement.

The group said the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), deviated from the standards by changing the shading threshold of ballots from 25 percent to 50 percent.

Claudette Guevara, Secretary-General of Democracy Watch, said the true will of the Filipino electorate cannot be fully ascertained if the PET will deviate from the standards by which the ballots were appreciated by the vote counting machines.

“Fairness would dictate that a review of the votes being questioned should be made on the same set of rules and standards implemented during the 2016 National Elections. Changing the rules makes no sense and even insinuates that the votes received by all elected officials, from the President to local officials, especially those closely contested positions should be recounted,” she said.

Guevara added that the results of the subsequent random manual audit revealed a near-perfect accuracy of 99.9023 percent for the vote counting machines.

Manhit agreed saying national opinion polls, foreign observers and independent election watch dogs have assessed the 2016 elections to be one of the most credible in recent memory.

This was also the conclusion reached by a special study “Technology, Democracy and Elections” authored by political science expert Dr. Francisco Magno for Stratbase ADRi.

“The general assessment of the 2016 Philippine automated elections is undeniably positive and was far better than the past two automated elections in 2010 and 2013,” it said.

Guevara said all this does is add another propaganda sound bite to claim there was cheating in the VP race.

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