double registrants

Voting populations improbably high, Numbers don’t add up

Voting populations improbably high, Numbers don’t add up
By Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—The numbers don’t add up.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) recently revealed that there were around 700,000 double or multiple registrants on the national voters’ list.

But poll watchdogs and a statistician said the number could be higher, citing population figures from 2007 and the Comelec’s registration numbers as of March 2009.

In particular, the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) and a census expert cited the “unrealistic figures” for population and registrants in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), considered to be the country’s cheating capital.

The ARMM, composed of the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, Maguindanao and Sulu, has a registered voting population of 1.6 million as of early 2009, according to the Comelec.

Its population, based on the 2007 census, was 4.1 million. The region has 117 municipalities and 2,486 barangays (villages).

Census data showed that the ARMM population growth rate was 5.4 percent, more than double the national average of 2 percent.

Not realistic

Redencion Ignacio, head of the census department at the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), said the ARMM figures were unrealistic. “The growth rate of the region overall is 5 percent. It’s not realistic,” she said.

The numbers have caused so much confusion among government data gatherers that a technical committee is studying whether to accept the numbers as valid or not, Ignacio said.

He said there were reports that local ARMM officials had ordered former residents to come back to the region for the census. There were also reports of intimidation and harassment of census takers in the region, poll watchdogs said.

Asked if the census takers, who were teachers, were ordered to inflate the numbers, Ignacio said it was anybody’s guess.

Election observers said ARMM officials sought to increase the region’s population so that they could carve out new districts, which means higher local budget allocations.

Ghost barangays

Namfrel’s vice president for membership Damaso Magbual said he was not surprised by the questionable numbers from the ARMM.

In 1984, the group found “ghost barangays” in Lanao del Sur. “They didn’t exist, but they had voters’ lists and precincts,” Magbual said.

He said he obtained the voters’ list for Pasig City in 2004 and found out, through house calls, that there were many fictitious voters on the registry.

Magbual said the fraud was easy to do: Census takers often list households using fictitious house numbers on a very real street.

Some inflate the number of members in a household. “The list said there were 18 voters in the house and then you go there and see a very small house,” he said.

If past elections had fictitious barangays, the 2010 automated polls could give rise to ghost precincts, another poll observer said.

Ghost precincts

Ramon Casiple, chair of the Consortium of Electoral Reforms, said the May 10 elections could give rise to “ghost precincts,” which would be more sinister.

Casiple said an “unscrupulous” election officer or an election operative could collect all the fraudulent names in one precinct and hoard the ballots for it.

Those who want to manipulate the results of the polls can shade the ballots in favor of their candidates and feed them into the machines.

“The machine has no capability to recognize this fraud. When the reporting comes, these ballots will be included in the counting,” Casiple said.

More dangerous

Casiple said this was more dangerous than “flying voters” or “dagdag-bawas” (vote-padding and vote-shaving) as it would be difficult to detect and trace the fraudulent entries in the machines.

Aside from population numbers, Namfrel also analyzed the number of registered voters based on the Comelec’s count as of March 2009, before the deadline for registration expired last October. [The registration was extended.]

Paralleling the sharp spike in population growth was the increase in number of registered voters in the ARMM, which enjoyed double-digit jump in 2009, Namfrel said.

Lanao del Sur’s voting population grew by 16 percent to 459,012 in 2009 from 396,722 in 2007; Sulu by 12 percent to 280,257 from 250,571; Tawi-Tawi by 11 percent to 156,027 from 140,232; and Basilan by 8 percent to 195,845 from 181,445.

Maguindanao recorded the biggest increase at 78 percent, from 336,774 to 601,057.

That all five provinces in the ARMM enjoyed robust increase in voting populations was peculiar, if compared with the region’s past data.

Comparing the 2000 and 2004, figures, Basilan and Maguindanao saw declines in the number of registered voters, at -14.5 percent and -15 percent, respectively. The other provinces experienced single-digit growths, the highest at 7.9 percent.

Namfrel also noted that the data on population growth and registered voters from various government institutions did not jive, leading to “absurd” findings.

Improbable ratios

A comparison of numbers—actual and projected—from the National Statistics Office, the NSCB and the Comelec shows “improbable” ratio of voters and population in several provinces, Namfrel said.

In Benguet province, for instance, the number of registered voters on the Comelec list was 328,010, as of March 2009.

Contrast this with the 2007 census that showed Benguet’s population at 372,533. As a result, the registered voters accounted for 88 percent of the total population.

Even if the population was adjusted to the 2009 level using NSCB’s projected growth rate of 1.9 percent, the percentage of adults was still a high 83 percent, way above the national average.

High voting population

Based on data from these sources, Namfrel identified other provinces with very high voting populations vis-à-vis their total populations. These are Lanao del Norte (87 percent), Misamis Oriental (87 percent), South Cotabato (83 percent), Zamboanga del Sur (96 percent), and Cebu (86 percent).

Namfrel said the average percentage of registered voters against population was 51 percent, “and it ranges from a low of 45 percent to a high of 60 percent for the different provinces.”

Thus, these data, Namfrel said, should ring alarm bells in the Comelec.

“Unless there are convincing and fool-proof explanations for these high numbers it is very likely that the data on the provinces mentioned above are suspect as erroneous,” it said.

Release voters’ registry

In a report card on the Comelec’s preparations for the country’s first automated elections, Namfrel said the improbabilities, when not corrected or acted upon promptly, could become grounds for disqualifying a candidate or even challenge a declaration of a conduct of truly fair and free elections.

Namfrel and other groups urged the poll body to release the computerized voters’ list as soon as possible so that they could check for multiple and double registrants before the precincts open on May 10.

The Comelec said the voters’ registry would be completed by the end of the month.

May 10 polls still not foolproof vs multiple registrants

May 10 polls still not foolproof vs multiple registrants
By Lynda Jumilla

MANILA, Philippines – In a well-secured corner in the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) information technology department lies the core of the poll body’s efforts to cleanse the voters list.

Costing P1.6 billion and provided by NEC of Japan, the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) is the latest technology in obtaining, storing, and analyzing fingerprint data.

In a country where double or even multiple registrants are part and parcel of elections, AFIS couldn’t have been more welcome.

“On-going ang paggamit ng AFIS, but it will take time because pag-compare po ng voters’ registration record sa ibang voters registration takes some time, hindi madali yan,” says Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal.

The AFIS has so far caught 250,000 multiple registrants since it was put to use.

These are people who registered more than once, using different names, birthdays, addresses and other identification details,

Take the case of one man, who we won’t name, from a Mindanao province known for multiple registrants.

In his second registration, he gave a different name, a different birthday, and even struck a different photographic pose. But his fingerprints in both registrations gave him away.

Comelec has high hopes the AFIS would result in a fully cleansed voter’s list.

Only, it won’t happen in the May 10 elections because not all 50 million voters have fingerprint records with the Comelec.

“About 32 million registered voters, may biometrics,” says Larrazabal. “Yung iba po, wala po silang biometrics, but pagkatapos po ng eleksyon, we will try our best to encourage as many voters to validate their registration.”

The remaining 18 million who have no fingerprint records are those who registered from 1997 to 2003.

Before Comelec implemented the biometrics system of registration, Comelec asked Congress for a law requiring voters to validate their registration by submitting to a fingerprint scan, but it was rebuffed by congressmen.

So for now, Comelec will issue a watch list and keep a close eye on multiple registrants to make sure they only vote once.

Comelec acts on list of double registrants

Comelec acts on list of double registrants
By Leila Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—The cat is out of the bag.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has confirmed the existence of potential “flying voters” that could mar the country’s first nationwide automated elections on May 10.

In a March 10 resolution released over the weekend, the Comelec said its information technology department had found 704,542 voters with double or multiple registration records.

The department also printed a list of voters whose registration records were not valid per precinct and per district, municipality or city, which were disseminated to election officers.

The Comelec ordered the removal of the other registration records of voters with double or multiple registration, and directed the Board of Election Inspectors not to allow them to vote.

The poll body also ordered the deletion of the registration records of the voters in the next hearings of the Election Registration Board.

In October last year, the Comelec said that in cases where voters were found to have registered in two or more districts, the latest registration should prevail and this was the only place where they would be allowed to vote.

In cases where there were double or multiple registrants in the same district, the original registration would prevail.

Comelec officials also earlier said that the double registration could simply be a result of the inadvertent failure to cancel previous records of voters who had changed residences and did not mean a subversion of the balloting.

PPCRV statement

Lawyer Howard Calleja of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) welcomed the Comelec’s disclosure.

The Comelec’s citizen arm had earlier called attention to its discovery of about 40,000 voters entered as “double, multiple or dead registrants” in Davao City and Davao del Sur.

Calleja said the PPCRV would continue checking the voters’ lists in other provinces. “We want to see if the figure is correct. It might be short or whatever,” he said.

Calleja earlier said that if 80 other provinces would have 40,000 questionable voters as in the Davao region, that could translate to about 3 million questionable voters nationwide.

He said that the 700,000 double and multiple registrants found by the Comelec was a significant number of voters that could spell the difference between victory and defeat for candidates.

Comelec weeds out 704, 542 double registrants

Comelec weeds out 704, 542 double registrants

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections on Friday said it has discovered more than 700,000 multiple and double registrants in its voters’ lists, thanks to a new computer program that checks voters’ registration records.

The Comelec said that aside from biometric scans and automated fingerprint identification system, it is now using algorithmic matching to check if voters registered more than once in different polling places. The program weeds out voters whose first, middle and last names and birthdates appear in different voters’ lists.

The poll body said Cavite had the most number of double and multiple registrants with 47,016, followed by three different districts of the National Capital Region including 2nd District (46,870), 4th District (46,281) and 3rd District (38,056).

The Comelec also found large numbers of double and multiple registrants in Cebu (23,602) and Davao del Sur (34,557).

The fewest number of double registrants were found in Batanes, with 46.

Last March 10, the Comelec en banc issued a resolution ordering the “abatement of the other registration records of voters found to have double or multiple registration records listed by the [Comelec information technology department].”

The resolution also directed boards of election inspectors (BEI) “not to allow these voters to vote in their respective precincts in the May elections.” It also ordered the deletion of the registration records of these voters in the next election registration board (ERB) hearings.

The Comelec IT department has already printed a list of voters whose registration records are not valid on a per precinct and per municipality level.

The Comelec earlier said it has weeded out 200,000 double or multiple registrants using its automated fingerprint identification system (AFIS).

COPW doubts poll automation

The Consumer and Oil Price Watch, meanwhile, expressed concerns and doubts about the state of preparedness of the Comelec to implement the automated election process by May 10 this year.

COPW chairman Raul Concepcion said that, so far, he is not convinced that the technology and equipment needed for the automation would be ready in time, stressing that it seemed many materials and training procedures had not yet been completed.e

“There is apprehension. They say they will have to buy new batteries, but you will buy all of that today? It’s too late! I’m worried about the state of preparedness. This is the most crucial elections in the history of the country,” he said

Concepcion said the energy crisis is also a concern, given the shortage of power supply currently being experienced in many parts of the country. He asked that power barges be purchased so that these worries are addressed.

He also called on the media and the public to attend the March 25th public hearing of the Joint Senate and House Oversight Committee to better gather information on the progress of preparations.

“The elections will be on May 10. If these concerns are not answered to our satisfaction by then, then I’m sorry, but I will be very pessimistic,” he said. Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Nograles to Supreme Court: Compel Comelec to cleanse Davao voters' list

Nograles to Supreme Court: Compel Comelec to cleanse Davao voters’ list
By Delon Porcalla
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Speaker Prospero Nograles yesterday asked the Supreme Court (SC) to compel the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to cleanse the Davao City voters’ list of double registrants and even registered voters that are already dead.

Nograles’ lawyer Danilo Basa filed a 10-page petition urging the SC to prepare a new list of voters in the three districts of Davao City.

Nograles, who is running for Davao City mayor against incumbent Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s daughter Sara, argued that the voters’ list of the Comelec is not reliable in cases of conflicts.

The Comelec has rejected any request to deactivate multiple, double and dead registrants in its voters’ list, and Nograles expressed fears the list of voters sent to the Board of Election Inspectors will only create a “cloud of doubt” on the election results.

The poll watchdog Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) estimates there are three million double, multiple and dead registrants nationwide.

Nograles also dismissed the Comelec’s explanation that the voters’ list, which found several double registrants in Davao City, was merely an oversight on its part, or an “honest mistake.”

He claimed that this could be a “premeditated scheme to cheat in the 2010 elections.”

Meanwhile, citing an internal office memorandum, Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Satur Ocampo claimed that the National Printing Office (NPO) in Quezon City has no more time to finish printing all the official ballots for the May 10 elections.

“The memo provided us is proof that the elections are in peril because of the possibility that there will not be enough ballots on Election Day,” he said.

Esmeralda Amora-Ladra of the project management office election support group sent the internal memo to her chief Jose Tolentino Jr.

The memo said: “Based on the production output, 7,917,584 (ballots) have been printed as of the morning of March 1, 2010. As of that day, the reception committee has received only 5,328,823 or 67.30 percent as good ballots, 39,104 or .49 percent have been quarantined, including the ballots for Palawan, which the committee still has to inventory.”

Ocampo said the memo means that the Comelec has to tap other printers, which could open up the possibility for fraud.

This developed as presidential bet Sen. Jamby Madrigal got irked when employees of the NPO went out for lunch when she arrived at the agency to inspect the printing of ballots.

“I am not against automation but I am not satisfied with what I saw. Somebody whispered to me that they were sent out to have their lunch break. Those who were verifying and inspecting the finished ballots were sent out on purpose,” Madrigal said.

The Comelec had invited presidential and vice presidential candidates to inspect the printing of ballots at the NPO.

Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said that Madrigal arrived during the lunch break of employees.

Madrigal came in at around 11:30 a.m. while the inspection was supposed to start at 10:30 a.m.

Lawyer asks Melo to sit on 2nd division

The lawyer of Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes asked Comelec Chairman Jose Melo to sit as the third member of the controversial Second Division “to try to ensure the impartiality of the division, and to insulate it from powerful outside forces.”

The said division had come under fire recently for a series of decisions unseating several local executives in favor of protesting candidates perceived to be allies of the administration.

Lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, Reyes’ counsel of record in the disqualification case against the Palawan executive, made the request in the wake of Melo’s public statements made yesterday denying that there was bribery in the Comelec to secure favorable judgments.

“I have much faith in the integrity and probity of Chairman Melo, and now he is presented with a golden opportunity to squelch rumors of rampant bribe offers within the halls of the Comelec by sitting in the Second Division as the chairman and third member thereof in view of the voluntary inhibition of Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer from sitting in my client’s case.”   – With Jess Diaz, Sheila Crisostomo

Comelec to create watchlist vs multiple registrants

Comelec to create watchlist vs multiple registrants
GMA News

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Thursday it plans to create a watchlist that would prevent suspected double or multiple registrants from voting more than once in the May polls.

Kung nandun ka sa (If you are on the) watchlist, the Board of Election Inspector (BEI) will stop you from voting… the BEI would verify (first),” Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal told reporters in an interview.

Larrazabal said that as prescribed by a previous Comelec resolution, double or multiple registrants may still vote but only in the precinct where he or she last registered. He said the list will just help the BEIs determine whether a voter should be voting in another precinct.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez added that even without being listed in the watchlist, a normal citizen can “challenge” the identity of a “suspicious” voter.

“Anyone can challenge, not just the BEIs,” he said.

Jimenez said the Comelec will be creating a web page called “Alma’s Death List” where the public can report deaths, in the process helping them cleanse the list of voters. “Alma” is Spanish for soul.

The poll officials made the announcement after the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) reported that there are more than 40,000 double registrants in Davao City and Davao del Sur while militant watchdog Kontra Daya said that the voters’ list for the May polls is padded by five million.

Despite this, Jimenez said they are not in “adversarial” relations with the watchdogs, stressing that it was even the Comelec that provided the voters’ list to the PPCRV. “If we wanted to hide anything, we wouldn’t have given the list to them,” he said.

Larrazabal said they plan to meet with the PPCRV and Kontra Daya to discuss the issue of multiple registrants more thoroughly. “We hope that we can work together,” he said.

Jimenez said they wish to finish cleansing before the book of voters close on March 26. “By then the list (should be) as clean as we can make it,” he said.

Ito na yung mga huling hirit ng mga naunang problema, itong mga nakikita nating (These are remnants of old problems. These are just) issues are (from the) old registration system,” he aded.

A total of 50,723,734 are qualified to vote in the May polls. – Kimberly Tan/RSJ/KBK, GMANews.TV

Lanao Sur voters’ list padded by 200,000

Lanao Sur voters’ list padded by 200,000
Philippine Daily Inquirer

WAO, LANAO DEL SUR—Gov. Mamintal Adiong Jr. on Tuesday said he was more worried by double registrants and flying voters in his province than by private armies.

Adiong, a Lakas-Kampi-CMD stalwart, said a padded voters’ roll was more likely to undermine the electoral process.

The Lanao del Sur governor said double registrants for instance could vote as many times as they desired to favor certain candidates.

He said there were about 500,000 registered voters in Lanao del Sur today when the number should only be between 300,000 and 350,000.

Adiong said vote-padding might be a result of one person having multiple registrations, nonresidents brought into the province to register as voter or even multiple voter, minors registered as voters and assumed names.

Names of dead

“It is highly likely these lists also contain the names of dead people,” he said.

By being able to cast their votes in the province, “these supposedly nonqualified voters could subvert the will of the real electorate,” Adiong said.

He said that as early as 2007, he had proposed that the Commission on Elections clean up its voters’ list, but it went unheeded.

As to the presence of private armies in his province, Adiong said politicians engaged in feuds might have thought they needed more bodyguards.

“The armed men who are usually seen, especially with politicians, could be there due to some people’s need to protect themselves from retaliatory attacks as a result of feuds,” he said.


But Abdullah Dalidig, chair of the Islamic Movement for Electoral Reform and Good Government, said the presence of armed groups could also affect the credibility of the polls.

“They may not have been originally intended for the elections but they can be employed to further the machinations of politicians wanting to gain votes,” he said. Reports from Ryan Rosauro and Charlie Señase, Inquirer Mindanao