By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte is proposing a hybrid election system (HES) that will use a combination of manual voting and counting and electronic transmission and canvassing of results to ensure the secrecy and sanctity of the ballot during May 2022, local and national elections.
“Right from the start, the 2010 automated elections became marred by technical glitches and logistical problems we never foresaw. These seemingly innocuous problems, while continuing up to the last automated elections in 2019, have mutated into more dangerous problems involving automated manipulation and wanton violation of our election laws by both the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and its service provider,” he said.
He filed House Bill 3896 which seeks to provide for a hybrid election system through manual voting and counting and electronic transmission and canvassing of results in national and local elections.
Villafuerte noted that by 2016, at least 35 violations had been documented, more than half of which were serially committed with impunity in 2010, 2013, and 2016 polls.
“At least half of these documented violations involved the security, accuracy, auditability, integrity, and transparency provisions of our election laws, which necessarily cast very serious doubts on the credibility of our elections,” he said.
“To date, close to 40 legal actions in various courts and government agencies have commenced against the automated election system since 2010. This condition cannot be allowed to continue unabated because the political and economic stability of our country is paramount,” the House leader said.
He said the HES promotes and enhances the crucial transparency, auditability, and credibility requirements of the elections by the open and public counting of the votes, while the automated election system (AES) lacks transparency and auditability because only the voting machines knew how the votes were counted.
Under House Bill 3896, the filing of the certificate of candidacy shall not be earlier than 90 days before the start of the campaign period for national positions.
In the AES, the law provides for an open deadline, but by regulation, it is not later than approximately 120 days before the start of the national campaign period for national positions, Villafuerte said.
Villafuerte’s bill proposes a maximum of 200 registered voters for each established precinct, and each official ballot is serially numbered for added security.
Under the measure, there is a prohibition against contracting out or outsourcing the printing of official ballots as a stringent security measure against massive fraud.
House Bill 3896 provides that voting time is limited from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m., as the open and public counting of the votes immediately follows after the closing of the polls. The counting must be completed by 3 p.m. of Election Day.
“The counting of the votes must be completed during the daylight in order to avoid any disruption and the presence of many observers from the public during daylight can effectively deter the commission of election fraud like ballot switching and snatching. And discourage terrorism, intimidation, and harassment in the polling precincts by armed goons,” Villafuerte said.