Black ballot boxes smells fishy

As opaque as the black ballot box
Editorial
The Daily Tribune

First it was a sturdy yellow ballot box with a small glass opening that was used in past elections.

Later, with the advent of automated polls, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) claimed that the old yellow ballot boxes will be replaced by new transparent plastic ballot boxes. The reason given then by the Comelec was that ballots being placed inside the box would be seen by all.

Just the other day, the Comelec showed media a new black ballot box, saying that management had decided to make a switch at the last minute. The reason given by the Comelec officials for the black plastic box with small “translucent” windows is that the ultra-violet markings in the ballots cannot be exposed to sunlight, hence the black plastic ballot box switch.

One wonders, however: What’s the difference between the old type of yellow ballot boxes and the now black boxes? The old ballot box, which was made of sturdier metal, could have then kept the UV markings in the ballots safe — if indeed such is the truth in the poll body’s reason, although this is gravely doubted, as UV technology is certainly more sophisticated in the matter of its fading under sunlight, which incidentally won’t be direct sunlight.

Why then replace this yellow ballot box type with a black plastic ballot box that looks more like a garbage bin?

Then too, it must be asked: If the alleged fading of the UV markings in the ballots is the real reason for the switch, was this UV problem not tackled when the Comelec came up and showed the media the model of the clear plastic ballot box?

Either both the Comelec and Smartmatic, which is the supplier of the ballot boxes, are so incompetent not to have known about this claimed UV problem when the model of the clear plastic ballot box was then decided on and announced to the public, or more money is being made somewhere by coming up with the black ballot box model. Or, maybe, the decision for the switch has some hidden electoral agenda., like cheating.

It will be recalled that the incompetent and clueless Comelec never included in the contract with the winning consortium the manufacture of the new plastic ballot boxes, even as the Comelec kept on talking about having new ballot boxes for the ballots from clustered precincts to fit.

Much, much later, there went Smartmatic, that has never been fined by the Comelec for the many delays in the shipment of the automated counting machines, saying that the contract for the manufacture of the plastic ballot boxes has not been signed, and that there was a deadline for it, otherwise, the price of the ballot box would have to be increased.

For a time, Comelec remained silent on this ballot box contract. And even up to today, the Comelec has not made public the price of the then transparent plastic ballot box.

For that matter, the Comelec still has not made public what the contract price for the manufacture of these black ballot boxes, as against the clear ballot boxes, is.

And the poll commissioners claim to be practicing transparency? They are as opaque as the black plastic ballot boxes they decided on using.

The thing is, the Comelec has never come clean with the electorate, through the Congress, right from the start. It has been altering the terms and conditions of the contract with Smartmatic-TIM, such as no longer coming up with the P7 million a day fine for every day of the delay in the machines. No matter the glitches and snags in the machines, Comelec still insists nothing but nothing is wrong with them. Even in the claim of having 50,000 IT experts has now undergone a change, with the claim now transformed into fielding some 50,000 IT capable, which really translates to just about anybody who can write on a computer, even if that person is computer-illiterate in the sense of trouble shooting.

Then there is too, the recent baring by the National Printing Office of the lack of the NPO’s UV markings in the 2 million ballots printed for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which the Comelec dismissed, saying that the UV markings from the NPO were unnecessary since the poll body, along with Smartmatic, had their own security markings, which would be a fail-safe mode to know whether the ballots are genuine or fake.

Now the Comelec makes this UV security markings a big reason for the switch to the black ballot box?

Something really smells fishy in the Comelec. After all, despite the box being padlocked three times over, it is still plastic that can easily be knifed, apart from the fact that the new ballot box, being plastic, can easily be manufactured by the cheats.

The ProPinoy Project