The 2010 Philippine National Elections is just around the corner and a lot of candidates are still campaigning seriously throughout the country. This is also the first time in the history of the Philippines that we’ll be having an automated election. It will alleviate the need to count the votes manually thus declaring the winners a lot sooner and it should be much easier for the people to vote.
Since this is the first time that we’re having an automated voting system, there are speculations that there might be problems (technical or human) that could affect the turnout of votes. This can actually be true and as I’ve watched 24 Oras (primetime news program of Philippines GMA Channel 7), there seems to be a number of candidates who want to have a parallel manual count which means that along with the automated counting of votes, the old way of counting votes one by one should be done as well.
As for me, I am against having a manual parallel count. This is the first time we’ll be having an automated election and there could be new problems that may arise from it like technical issues and exploitation. Let me consider its source code. As a programmer myself, it is important to safeguard my source because not only can it be duplicated, it can be used maliciously. The same thing goes for the source code used for the upcoming elections. If someone gets a hold of it, they could see how the voted are transmitted and counted. Not everyone can understand how it works.
Here’s another thing. Before, during the manual counting, members of the media, communities, and political parties are in schools or voting areas while the votes are counted to make sure no one is cheating and they’re counting accurately based on official ballots. There are people in the election committees verifying the ballots before counting them. But what about this May 10th?
Will someone still watch the system while the votes are counted? Well, you can’t actually do that now since the votes are counted automatically right after the voter places the ballot inside the machine. Hopefully, more people would stay in the voting areas to watch over the ballots and the machines to make sure no one is cheating.
With regards to having a manual count, I think it would also be beneficial since you can actually compare it to the results of the automated system and see if it really works. But the problem here is that it now involves human intervention and as we all know, more mistakes can happen either deliberately or not. Plus, what’s the point of having an automated system in the first place if we’ll wait for the results of the manual counting again? You just wasted millions of pesos in the acquisition of the machines and almost everything related to the automation of elections.
So my stand as of the moment is not to have a parallel manual count. This could waste more resources. What about the manpower and the amount of time to do this? Hopefully, everything will be reviewed if it is really going to be considered. Problems can happen and even the best machines and electrical equipments in the world can have technical problems and as we know it, more problems may happen in manual counting.