There was a seven-hour delay in the transmission of early election results on Election Day by the Commission on Elections’ transparency server to the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV).
The official Comelec count, with all its official requirements, may take longer to determine, but the transparency server is supposed to provide the initial results, even if unofficial, immediately to the PPCRV. This is part of the system to inform the public in the earliest possible time how the voting went.
The single most important reason for our shift to automated elections was the swift reporting of results. In the old manual system, it would take weeks, even months, before results from the remote provinces of the country could be relayed to Manila. With automated elections, it should take just hours.
Bu what happened last Election Day — a seven-hour delay in reporting advanced results to the PPCRV – has now raised questions and suspicions. The Comelec explanation is that the reporting system was overwhelmed by the volume of data. But wasn’t this possibility planned for, so that the problem could have been swiftly solved, within an hour, if not minutes, and not the seven hours that it took last Monday?
Aside from the big time gap in the reporting of initial poll results, many opposition sectors have now raised other questions. The Akbayan said so many voters were disenfranchised because of the malfunction of several vote-counting machines. A group in Marawi City charged that many ballots were preshaded to favor certain candidates in Lanao del Sur.
But it is the seven-hour delay in reporting advanced results to the PPCRV that raises the most questions. There is no proof that election returns were tampered with during the seven-hour period, but computer experts agree that the possibility is there.
The one great reason we shifted from manual to automated elections was the swiftness with which the nation could learn who had won and who had lost. There should be no seven-hour delay such as what happened in the last elections.
When our officials make a review of all that happened last Monday, and considering the fears and suspicions that have been raised in all the previous automated elections since 2010, they might want to reconsider the old proposal of combining a manual count of votes in each precinct, with automated transmission of the results to the national center.
This way, a least, people would see an actual precinct count, not just a voting machine spewing out a final unquestioned precinct tally. There would be a measure of transparency, which is not found in today’s totally automated elections.