News — May 23, 2012 at 1:34 pm

The Rise And Potential Fall Of PCOS Machines

Mister G.

Automated voting in the Philippines

The time for an electoral warm-up in the Philippines has come again. Paid advertisements by those political figures are already making their way again in front of the television screens. Some political figures are already planning way ahead of time about their desire for a political position. Some of them are already “making a statement” by doing some public community service, especially for the poor.

A year from now, people will be going to the precincts again to elect the local officials (mayor, vice mayor, congressional representative, councillors) and their desired Senatoriables. However, there are also talks regarding the voting system that is going to be used for the midterm elections.

In the past, Filipinos have been long-used to manual counting. Manual counting usually uses ballots where voters are able to write the names of the candidates they wish to vote. Ballots are inserted at an aluminium ballot box, and it will be sent to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for official tallying. There have been a lot of bad cases regarding the manual counting system, as because it constantly changes the Philippine political landscape in a drastically way. Such bad cases are long lines at the precincts, ballot snatching and burning of ballots. Manual counting system’s methodology took months before the Comelec officially proclaims a winning candidate.

Ballot boxes used for manual counting

There are already a lot of countries that adapted an automated voting system ahead of the Philippines, a sign that the country is still lagging in terms of overall systems and utilization of technology. However, it was not until the 2010 presidential elections, when the COMELEC introduced the automated voting system in the Philippines, together with the demonstration of the use of PCOS machines. A couple of years before the 2010 presidential elections, COMELEC and Smartmatic are always working together to pull things off. COMELEC and the Philippine government has spent enormous billions just to purchase PCOS machines to be used for vote counting process.

The use of PCOS machines for transmitting vote counts has been widely viewed as a start of the new chapter and a sign of an improvement in the Philippine political scene. With the new system unfolded, winning candidates are officially proclaimed as late as seven days. However, there are still a lot of flaws. There are people who aren’t adequately trained to operate the machine in case a paper jam or a technical glitch happens, especially in rural areas of the country. There have also been transmission problems and power failures reported during such times.

Because of the flaws seen in the automated voting system, some people are calling for the manual voting system to return these 2013 elections. There have been many speculations already, where people are saying that the automated counting and the manual counting system are just the same. As of this time, COMELEC still hasn’t set guidelines for the 2013 midterm Senatorial elections.

Writer’s Take

There is no way, no way! Please Comelec, I’m begging you! As an advanced and forward thinking Filipino, please don’t make the voting system a snail-paced one again, as because that there are risks that my vote is going to fly somewhere far away from the tallying officials. This is going to be my first time to exercise my right to elect, so please don’t disappoint me.

Keep in mind that the automated system is a sign that the electoral process has been drastically improved. Moreover, I say that it’s worth the buy. Any sign of an upgrade through spending is mandatory though. Proper maintenance is simply required in order to sustain the operability of our PCOS machines. With that, Pinoy IT professionals who are skilled and credible are the ones needed to do the job in order to keep the automated system of voting afloat.

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