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Efforts continuing to ensure poll transparency



e-cartoon-oct-10-2019A new effort to ensure transparency, auditability, and credibility in Philippine elections has been launched in the House of Representatives with the filing of House bill 3896 by Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur  Rep. Raymund “LRay”  Villafuerte,  for a  combination of manual  voting  and counting  and electronic transmission and canvassing of results.

The adoption of such a hybrid election system has long been proposed by many quarters,  especially after such unexpected glitches as long delays in the transmission of results from precincts to canvassing centers. His proposed hybrid election system, Congressman Villafuerte said, will enhance transparency in the  voting and counting, in answer to charges that under the present system,  only the voting machines know how the votes were counted.

This issue of transparency has  also  been raised in many other countries that have adopted automatic elections. A new machine is now being developed in the United States, which has been  hailed by observers as a breakthrough in voting secrecy and transparency. It  was  developed by London-based Smartmatic with Los Angeles County,  the biggest jurisdiction in size and number of voters  in the United States.

The new machine features a simple process where voters mark their choices on a touchscreen. The machine then prints the choices on  a paper ballot, allowing the voter to verify and even make corrections, befoe officially casting his ballot.

LA County Registrar Dean Logan cited the transparency and straightforwardness of the new system. “There is no ambiguity in this ballot. When it  prints out,  there  is no pregnant chads, no deciphering the intent of the voter. It’s very clear. It’s human readable text,” he said. “The device can  be used in 13 languages and exceeds national security standards for voting.” To ensure the umost in security, voting machines are designed to stand alone and are not connected to any kind of network or the Internet.

Once Smartmatic and LA County finish testing the new election system, it will go to the California Secretary of State.  It is expected to be in place for the March, 2020,  California presidential primary election.

­­LA County’s new machines with Smartmatic  now undergoing final touches are part of the continuing process around the world aimed  at ensuring the integrity and credibility of automated elections, on top of the speed with which voters get to know the results of the voting.

Congressman Villafuerte’s bill seeks to solve some problems that have emerged in Philippine elections. The new voting machines being developed by Smartmatic and LA County will focus on their own peculiar problems in that part of the US. These and other innovations around the world should help in perfecting the election process which is the heart of democratic government.


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