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Philippine's first automated election in the ARMM region

The Philippine government spent some 600 million pesos (US$13.6 million) in its 1st implementation of a computerized election during the last August 11, 2008 ARMM Election. This served as the test-pilot for the country's general elections in 2010. Despite minor technical glitches, irregularities existed that included vote buying, hauling of voters, authentication, double registrants, ghost voters, not using indelible ink, “coaching” whom to vote, the presence of Army and police officers inside polling places, and others.

The Comelec (Commission of Election) used two electronic voting systems for the polls: DRE (direct recording electronic) system for the province of Maguindanao, and OMR (optical mark reader) technology for the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Shariff Kabunsuan and Lanao del Sur. Although only in some parts of the troubled Mindanao region, the Commission was determined to take the e-voting system into trial. Using low tech transport, they delivered the high tech equipment by land, see, horse and carabao.

The trial was perceived a success but greater preparation in 2010 is needed to intensify voters’ education among the grassroots; and to ensure that capability training programs are given to stakeholders in the most timely, efficient and effective manner.

See http://www.armm2008.com.ph/news18.html

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Comment by Atty. Elias Laurente Espinoza on January 18, 2009 at 5:37pm
Maureen, the problem with Comelec is that it is not serious in implementing the automated voting law. despite congress' demand to comply with the law, Comelec is still slaguish. the trial in ARMM failed to convince congres that Comelec is ready for the automated voting. I just had a talk with Sen. Chiz Escudero and he expressed fears that there will be more cheating if the automated voting will be implemented because the machines are limited and perhaps antiquated, the candidates are not given copies of the result. He even suggested that the best test pilot for automated voting should be in well-informed cities where media is active. It takes time to educate the voters on a new electronic voting system or counting system. Remember that some American states are wanting to return to the old system of voting.
Comment by Maureene Bello on January 14, 2009 at 1:12am
Since 2010 is just around the corner, I don't hear enough actions going on in this region from Comelec especially on education. There are no hearing of them cleaning their list of registered voters. It has always been the root of problems. I think they are back to the old habits of "last minute" activities. Hearing Comelec seriously pushing to test it in the ARMM region was an inspiring thought but having their silence now is a disturbing sign.

Technology offers many opportunities, it is really up to the people to make it work. In addition, there are no standard framework to guarantee success. The US may be successful but other nations may have different experience.
Comment by Joseph Mokaya Gichana on January 13, 2009 at 4:48pm
I believe that with the right technology, manipulating important processes like national elections will not be easy.As all of us are aware the US is already using this kind of voting, that is why the results are always out on short notice with few if not non-existent errors!
Imagine if US or a country like India was to go manual?, i dont even want to imagine what would happen, we are still smarting from the after effects of the disasterous electionsLets embrace technmology
Comment by Charity Gamboa-Embley on January 13, 2009 at 3:35pm
Are these machines new? Last time I heard those machines were left to rot. The COMELEC should get themselves busy educating the people how to use these machines. It might come in handy if we get our Voter's ID with a barcode that we can just swipe over the machine when we vote. The idea might not be too far-out but I believe we should really make of of this technology to ensure honest elections. The traditional politician can no longer enforce his "guns" and "goons" to easily manipulate those poor, helpless illiterate Filipinos. I just wish that this automated system really comes with a "high-tech" voter's ID, too.

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