"What this Country needs is not a change OF men but a change IN men" March 1980

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Senate OKs poll automation

"This is a great leap forward for our country. This is about making sure that every vote of every Filipino is counted, and counted properly. This is about giving the future of the Philippines back to its own people," Gordon said.

"Year after year, allegations of fraud paralyze our country. It practically ensures that only the powerful and the wealthy stay in power -- the ones who can cheat and buy the votes. Even the last attempt to computerize was tainted by fraud. We of the Senate have proposed a solution to end the cheating and the fraud, and to make sure that the people’s voice is truly heard," he said.

The Gordon bill would mean that two provinces and two cities each in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao would get to use automated systems in the 2007 elections. By 2010, the entire electoral system should be automated. Stronger measures for supervision and oversight would be put in place to ensure transparency in choosing technology and bidding out of the contract.

Gordon explained that AES is a system using appropriate technology for voting, counting, consolidating, canvassing, transmission of election results and other processes in the conduct of electoral exercises.

To carry out the electronic electoral system, the Senate-approved bill stated that the initial R1.6 billion would be charged against the Comelec’s current modernization fund "and the R1 billion in the current year’s appropriations of the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT)."

Thereafter, future appropriations for the continuous implementation of AES would be included in annual national government budgets.

As far as practicable, the AES should have the following features:

— It must be user-friendly and need not require computer-literate operators.

— The machine security must be built-in and multi-layer existent on hardware and software with minimum human intervention using the latest technology like encrypted coding system.

— The security key control must be embedded inside the machine sealed against human intervention.

— The optical mark reader must have a built-in printer for numbering the counted ballots and also for printing the individual precinct number on the counted ballots.

— The machine must be able to count from 100 to 150 ballots per minute. It must be able to detect and reject previously counted ballots to prevent duplication. It must have the capability to recognize the ballot’s individual precinct and city or municipality before counting or consolidating the votes.

The bill stated that all registered parties and bona fide candidates shall have equal access to media time and space.

It stated that each bona fide candidate or registered political party for a nationally elective official shall be entitled to an aggregate airtime of 120 minutes of TV advertisement and aggregate air time of 180 minutes of radio ads whether by purchase or donated for the entire election campaign period.

For candidates seeking local positions, each bona fide candidate shall be entitled to an aggregate 60 minutes of TV airtime and an aggregate 90 minutes of radio airtime whether by purchase or donation for the entire election campaign period.

Violation of the two guidelines shall constitute a ground for disqualification, the bill stated.