Poll failure should be met with vigilance
Posted on 16 April 2010
The anti-fraud and election monitoring group Kontra Daya today said that people’s vigilance is the proper response to a possible failure of elections.
Kontra Daya convener Fr. Joe Dizon made this statement following the release of a report by the think-tank Pacific Strategies and Assessments (PSA), which found 14 “danger signs” that the May 2010 elections – the first automated elections in the country’s history – are likely to encounter problems, or to fail. These are: lack of clear plans to house and secure precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines; failure to fully test all PCOS machines; lack of rigorous field-testing of PCOS, except in a few areas where high ballot-rejection rates were noted; high restriction of the source code; the use of two memory cards for each machine, which creates openings for cheating, mishandling, theft, or vandalism; the absence of cellular or broadband network signals in 30 percent of voting centers; the non-designation of any independent party that would handle keys to unlock PCOS machines before the transmission of results; the hazy system of transporting and keeping the machines in safe warehouses; the drastic delay in ballot printing; the non-publicizing of critical contacts, instructions, plans, and procedures; the lack of training for election inspectors; shortage of manpower; failure of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to cleanse the voters’ list; and lack of information on new clustered precinct assignments.
“These findings confirm and reinforce the concerns that we earlier raised on the likelihood of a failure of elections,” Dizon said. “They further highlight the need for the public to be vigilant.”
Kontra Daya’s own observations on the likelihood of a failure of elections, which its conveners raised in several dialogues with the Comelec, stemmed from repeated ballot rejections and difficulties in transmitting results in several mock elections and field tests; the delay in the printing of ballots; the absence of National Printing Office (NPO) markings in ballots for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM); the lack of time to accommodate the 1,000 voters expected to queue at each clustered precinct, which will be served by one PCOS machine and three election inspectors; and defects in the ultraviolet markings on the ballots.
Dizon agreed with PSA that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is barred by the Constitution from running for another presidential term and is now vying for a seat at the House of Representatives, will take advantage of a failure of elections to perpetuate herself in power.
Dizon invited all concerned citizens to join the “Jericho March” to the Comelec scheduled on April 22. Spearheaded by various religious groups, the “Jericho March” will be staged to denounce what the organizers describe as “a grand design to make the elections fail.”
“The ‘Jericho March’ will be an expression of the kind of vigilance that we are urging the people to exercise, especially when worst-case scenarios like a failure of elections takes place,” Dizon said. “It will be a practice run for actions that we may have to stage after the elections.”