“The truth will have its day.”
Although 107,000 of the Vote Counting Machines (VCMs) performed flawlessly, during the early hours of voting on May 9, media focused its attention on the 200 or only 0.0018 percent of the total number of VCMs that were reporting issues. The juicy story of the failing VCMs gathered momentum on social media just as most negative stories do.
However, another more interesting story passed seemingly unnoticed. Faced with the choice between going home or waiting for the machines to start working, voters were refusing to surrender their ballots to poll workers. They preferred to wait as long as it was necessary until they could feed the VCM with their marked ballot themselves.
The real story here speaks of an electorate that has come to appreciate the vote counting machines and the Automated Election System (AES). Memories of a distant past, when voters went home without knowing if their vote would be tallied, may have played a role.
With the May 9 election already in the rear mirror, it’s important to reflect on the evolution of election administration in the Philippines. Despite the media noise, amplified by diligent citizens reporting on social media any minor issue, the truth is that the deployment of the AES continues to improve with each election.
Vote after vote, the learning curve is leading to greater efficiency and transparency. In these 2022 general elections, 99.9982 percent of the VCMs performed flawlessly. Results were published online shortly after polls close. On election night, transmission reached more than 85 percent of election returns, a remarkable feat that puts the Philippines in a league of its own in the region. The evolution of election administration in the country is unquestionable, no matter what key performance indicator is measured.
Statistics teach us that two data points are not a trend. The successful completion of our fifth national election is an unequivocal confirmation that automation has drastically transformed Philippine elections.
Historically, Philippine elections were marred with fraud. For years, the country struggled to conduct free and fair elections. Each new election cycle was marked by electoral violence, contested results, a slow vote count, and widespread distrust.
After monitoring an election in 2004, the International Foundation for Election Systems wrote: “The Philippine elections are marred by allegations of cheating and fraud. This fundamentally undermines not only the credibility of election administration, but also the legitimacy of the elected institutions of the state.”
The AES has drastically improved election administration in the Philippines since it was first implemented in 2010. Vote after vote, with faster election results, and an accurate, transparent count has enabled Filipinos to trust their elections. This is probably why, according to a Pulse Asia survey conducted after the previous national election, 9 in 10 voters want their future elections automated.
2010 marked a turning point. From that election on, the country has consistently improved all election metrics. The 2022 election, with results available on election night and peaceful acceptance of results by the overwhelming majority of candidates will mark yet a new, positive milestone in the history of Philippine elections.
Akbayan speaks up on DQ ruling
We got this statement from Akbayan partylist last May 10 via email and want to share this with our readers for what it’s worth:
“The Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc’s decision to deny the disqualification petition that we filed against Bongbong Marcos Jr. is a catastrophe for the country’s electoral democracy. It is both a colossal and institutional failure on the part of the Comelec to safeguard our electoral system from an unqualified candidate, a plunderer and convicted tax evader. It has undermined to the core the sanctity and integrity of our elections by throwing established rules out the window, and opening the doors wide open for all corrupt and criminal politician-wannabes to make a mockery of our electoral exercise.
“While the decision is expected, its massive repercussions on our democracy cannot be discounted. What started as an opportunity for the Comelec to uphold our election laws and strengthen our institutions has ended in a twisted tale of farce. The penalty for tax evasion is perpetual disqualification. This is as clear as day. All the Comelec had to do was follow through. Instead, the Comelec has failed the test of integrity and consistency.
“This setback does not discourage us however. In fact, it strengthens our resolve and conviction to move forward. There are other legal paths open to us.
“Akbayan will appeal this case to the Supreme Court. We will pursue this case to its logical and just conclusion. We know that the law is on our side. We will not allow Marcos Jr. to sleep soundly. For there can be no rest for the wicked. And if the lessons of history have taught us anything, it is that the moral arc of the universe bends towards justice. All liars are exposed eventually, and the truth will have its day.” (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)