In 2010

In 2010 – the success of the internet voting pilot test inspired legislators to rally behind a measure amending the modernization law to allow internet voting in all highly urbanized cities and all the major municipalities nationwide. It was only incidental that the authors of the law came from those highly urbanized cities and major municipalities that would enjoy internet voting.

Voting in those places began one month before the 2nd Monday of May, and voters were able to vote anywhere. There were internet kiosks set up in groceries, hospitals, malls, even cemeteries; people could vote from their phones; from computers in their homes; from laptops out in the middle of Manila Bay. The whole concept of absentee voting became obsolete.

In places where internet voting was not available, there was a mix of election solutions: half-manual in most municipalities, where voters used an optical mark (OM) ballot – like the ones used for lotto; and for the rest, a direct-recording electronic (DRE) system using battery powered voting units that could easily be transported to island municipalities and other far-flung areas. Despite the variations in technology, however, electronic transmission becomes the main vector for canvassing.

Results from places that used OM ballots were routed to an electronic transmission system. In those few areas where DRE systems were in place, the results were beamed directly to the canvassing center using the modem integrated into the battery powered voting units. These places that didn’t use internet voting had a voting period of two weeks, counted from the 2nd Monday of April.

The widespread acceptance of modernized voting processes spurred a change in campaigning strategies as well.

The internet was proven to be an effective campaign vector in 2007 and by 2010, podcasts have all but replaced traditional broadcast advertising. Podcasts are cheaper to produce, and persist far longer than 30-second spots on tv and radio. Newspaper ads are taken over by on-line advertising.

The first dot com to take advantage of this new trend is http://www.broadsheet.com – a website containing only paid political advertising. The basic package entitles you to one week exposure on the site; exposure being defined as a 60 second video clip with scrolling information about the candidate’s credentials and platforms. Premium packages offer partnerships with popular sites allowing political advertising to appear as pop-ups on those sites.

Other dot coms follow. There’s politicaltipsheet.com and winnaz.com. The pop-up package is wildly successful and also incredibly annoying. The COMELEC is deluged with complaints, forcing it to look seriously into regulating pop-ups, and later on, trying to bring internet spending within the ambit of the spending cap. But none of these attempts result in serious regulation. Apparently, a majority of legislators are too busy designing their own pop-ups.

SMS campaigning, despite fulsome predictions about how successful it would be as a campaign medium, turned out to be a dud. People with cellphones find them too obtrusive and candidates who relied heavily on text campaigns realized that they turned-off more voters than they gained. Only the candidates with a cell-phone toting constituencies actually found it worth the trouble, but even they admitted that SMS only allowed them to stay in touch with people who would’ve voted for them anyway – kinda like a “preaching to the choir” situation. So, by 2010, the jets on SMS campaigning had cooled tremendously. And anyway, cellphones had become the new pagers. With free wi-fi (for the next three years, anyway) widely available, people preferred the new Portable Computing Platforms (PoCLats) – handheld computers with 5 inch screens that could be used to surf the net, make phone calls, watch hard-drive videos (HDVs) on, and light your cigarettes with (travel pillow attachment, optional).

Obviously, by this time, personal campaigning had become almost quaint, with only a few old candidates actually still insisting on traditional stumping. Inevitably, these traditional campaign sorties had to be cut short as the candidates realized that their audiences were repulsed by portable oxygen tanks and the tinny Mr. Roboto sound made by tracheotomy voice-boxes. Even worse, the Sex-Bomb dancers refused to boogie with them as none of the dancers knew CPR.

On the second monday of may, the electronic ballot boxes were opened; the results were available in under five minutes, broadcast live over the internet. Within two hours, the COMELEC proclaimed the winner of all races except the presidency and vice-presidency. Using COMELEC provided facilities, the results were fed into the canvassing computers of Congress where armies of accountants verify the math. Within five hours, Congress gave up trying to punch holes into the results, and the president and vice-president elect were announced. None of the candidates (5 each for president and vice) achieved a majority, and the winning candidates each enjoyed a lead of less than three-quarters of a million. More people voted on the 4th season of Philippine Idol than in the elections.

Alarmed, Congress convened an emergency session at the best of both the Speaker of the House and the Senate President. Within twenty-four hours, a law was passed mandating run-off elections after two weeks. The COMELEC scrambled with a nationwide information campaign and the re-programming of the voting systems. Unfortunately, only the internet voting system could be reprogrammed in time. Two weeks and one day later, the run-off elections were held, with the electorate limited to those who used internet voting; a new president and vice-president emerged, enjoying a 53% and a 67% majority victories respectively.

An hour later, messages started pouring in from other countries, congratulating the winners and commending the COMELEC. The elections of 2010 were hailed as the first truly successful elections in Philippine history.

The following day, the losing candidates filed a complaint with the Presidential Election Tribunal, alleging that that the contract for internet voting was flawed – and the results of the election ought to be invalidated – because the internet voting pilot test that inspired the amendments in 2010 was allegedly carried out without an implementing law. The ‘fruit of the poison tree’ argument was invoked, and the Supreme Court agreed.

46 million Filipino voters choked on the fruit of the poison tree, much to the delight of Snow-White’s step mother and the Filipino Malthusians’ Association of the Philippines (FMAP) who exulted that the problem of over-population had finally been solved.

5 Responses

  1. […] “futuristic” article about supposed automated elections in 2004. But this recent blog entry from James Jimenez, the official spokesperson of the Commission on Elections, is simply hilarious. […]

  2. Comelec has only itself to blame for its antediluvian
    reputation as the least trusted of govt agencies.

    No amount of harping on future technology will help
    erase the impression that it is engaged in old-fashioned
    dereliction of duty.

    The agency has to demonstrate its commitment to the Law,
    not its partiality to the powers that be, if it is to
    rescue itself from the people disdain.

    Examples like the Cayetano nuisance candidacy; its utter
    disinterest in the Garci conversations; and the cowardice
    in dealing with Chavit…these are continuing indictments
    of the agency as dishonorable and unworthy of the people’s
    trust.

    You have to do the brave things that people will see
    takes guts to do, or wallow in their everlasting disdain.

  3. An Open Letter from a Discreet/Closeted/Married Bi in Dubai

    *******************************************************

    March 7-COMELEC has insulted Ang Ladlad and the FIlipino LGBT community by denying accreditation and calling Danton Remoto as a nuisance candidate. Yesterday, Commissioner Abalos said that no one will campaign for Ang Ladlad because its members are in the closet. He impled that LGBTs are all too embarrassed to campaign during the day because we are in the closet. He added in sarcasm that LADLAD will probably campaign when it is already dark.

    ******************************************************

    Sa inyong mga balasubas na commissioners sa COMELEC (particularly ABALOS and BORJA) after na iturn-down ng mga ito ang candidacy ng LALDLAD bilang partylist representative:

    Kung pepede lang sana na pagbabatukan ko kayong lahat para lang magising ang mga kokote ninyong nira-rust na sa pagupo sa walang silbing departamento ng gobyerno diyan, ginawa ko na sana. Kung sana lang maupakan ang mga makakapal na pagmumuka ninyo at kung sana lang napakalapit niyo dito, madaling gawin.

    Kung hindi ba naman kayo nuknukan ng kagaguhan at katarantaduhan – natural na karamihan ng susuporta sa LADLAD mag kloseta (hindi pedeng lumadlad dahil maraming rason), pero hindi ibig sabihin nun na hindi naman sinusuportahan ang adhikan ng LGBT. Natatakot ka bang malaman ang result ng eleksyon kung sakali? Na ilang milyong ang bading sa Pinas (out at discreet), baka mabigla kayo commissioner, malay natin baka isa sa mga anak mo, kapatid, kamag-anak, ay kadugo rin pala namin at lihim na ibubuto ang LADLAD w/o you knowing.

    Ang hirap kasi sa atin, nagmamalinis tayo na hindi nag e-exist ang kabadingan. Madami kami, nakakalat, hindi mo alam, hindi halata gaya ko. Magkakaiba man ang pananaw namin sa kabadingan, ganun pa rin iisa ang hangarin, na maibsan ang pait at lupit na dinaranas ng mga halatadong bading sa kani-kanilang trabaho, pambabastos at iba pang uri ng karahasan.

    Hindi ho ba kayo nahihiya diyan commissioner, ilang bilyon ba ang inaakyat ng OFWS (lalo na ang mga gays at discreet) sa ekonomiya ng Pinas, na pinapasahod ang mga buwayang gaya ninyo? Ilan ba kaming OFW na closeted? Wala kayong idea kasi mag bobo nga kayo eh, at hindi ninyo dapat sinasabing wala susuporta sa mga gaya ng LADLAD, kasi nga utak-bangaw kayo.

    Maaring ang nakikita lang ninyo ay ang mga bading na ladlad, yung mga parlorista, mga nasa showbiz, comedy bars at designers, pero malaking bahagi ho ng sumusuporta sa LADLAD ay mga lalaki. Lalaki sa kilos at sa gawa kahit ano bisexual ang ang kanyang orientation. Tsaka di niyo na ba naisip ang mga kaibigan ng mga bading na bobnoto din ng ladlad? Sila yung mga best friends ng mga bakla o tomoboy na inaapi ninyo, mga straight male and female na totoo ang suporta sa LADLAD.

    Ngayon, matanong ko lang? Sino nga ba ang bading? Ang alam ko matatawag na bading ang isang lalaking walang BAYAG at MAPANIRA NG IBANG TAO AT GRUPO. Siguro bading ka nga ABALOS at BORJA? Ang tunay na lalaki, hindi dapat nagri-remark ng pagtataray tungkol sa kandidatura ng LADLAD. Maaring hindi lumadlad ang majority ng supporter ng Ladlad pero hindi ibig sabihin nun na hindi na kami boboto. At nagpapaka ignorante ka pa? Na hindi mo mawari kung lalaki o babae ang niri-representa ng grupo, e tanga ka naman pala eh, kaya nga bakla o tomboy kasi pangatlong kasarian yun. Kung hindi mo ma-accept na me third sex, aba eh utak-kalawang ka nga at nabubuhay ka pa sa panahon ng mga taga kuweba. Ang kapal ng mukha mong sabihin yan? Siguro nung bata ka walang nagpantasyang bading sa iyo kasi di ka naman kaguwapuhan gaya mga naging anak mo. Bakit sino ba ang nag-aayos sa asawa mo? Sino ba ang nagpapaguwapo sa iyo para magmukha kang tao sa kamera? Sino ba ang nagtatahi ng mga damit mo at pamilya mo? Napaka-ingrato mong tao kung ganun, na hindi mo na-aapreciate na me mga bading pala sa paligid mo.

    Matakot ka na dahil sa mga statements mo, malay mo silahista pala ang nagsi-serve na waiter sa iyo, at dinuduraan na ang kape mo at worse iniihian ang soup mo o kaya dinadyakulan ang salad mo. Ma-praning ka sana. At sana lang me mga silahistang bomber diyan o sundalo o mamamatay-tao na nasagasaan ng insulto mo about LADLAD and GAYS para isang araw wag na tayong magugulat kung me itinumbang taga Comelec dahil sa kabalahuraan ng ugali at pagiging HOMOPHOBIC na siyang ugat ng GAY OPRESSION.

    Mula sa Isang Discreet Bisexual Guy sa DUBAI

    *************************************

  4. I really don’t know if the COMELEC officials (all handpicked by Mrs. Arroyo) can disqualify Mr. Chavit Singson as a senatorial aspirant this week. For one, Singson is a known ally of Mrs. Arroyo- the one who had annointed and chosen the present leadership of the COMELEC. I think all COMELEC officials should be annointed and chosen by the members of a non-partisan body in our government. Such should be the task of the Supreme Court’s justices. The Supreme Court is suppossed to be a non-partisan body in our government. Mr. Chavit Singson definitely violated certain election-rules. Can Mr. Abalos disqualify Singson? If Mr. Abalos can’t do the job of reforming the COMELEC and the political-election system, then he should voluntarily resign from such a post at the COMELEC.

    Sometimes the commissioners act more as fans than commissioners! If the candidates happen to be celebrities or controversial people, they can easily pass as “official candidates”. Maybe Mr. Abalos is a fan of Mr. Singson, that is why the commissioners have “little time” to investigate the so-called electioneering charge against Mr. Chavit Singson. I’m not saying that Singson is guilty right away! But the commissioners have to investigate such matter in a fast and decisive way! Mr. Abalos should act as a commissioner, not a fan of celebrities.

  5. The COMELEC commissioners once bragged that they will be holding an en banc session that will listen to the pleas of the so-called nuisance candidates and, then, allow such candidates to file their position-papers before finally determining if they really deserved to become official candidates or just nuisance-ones for the coming senatorial race. The outcome for such a judgment would be “democratic”. The hearing was scheduled on March 6, 2007. But only a handful of such so-called “nuisance candidates” appeared before the en banc committee. The thing is that the majority of such nuisance candidates were not able to make it on such a forum. About 13 of such candidates appeared on such date. The other 33 or so were absent during the hearing. So, the COMELEC wasn’t able to notify successfully all of such candidates. How could that hearing be called democratic if the majority of such candidates were not properly-notified by the COMELEC? All of such candidates have written their landline and cellular phone numbers in their resumes. How come they were not phoned-in by the COMELEC? The COMELEC said that it made a press release for such a meeting. But most of the candidates were not notified through phones. Letters? Yes, letters were sent, but not on accurate dates. You know that the snail-mail system in the Philippines is really slow as a snail. The notification-letters had been sent in exactly one week before such a hearing. Most of such letters arrived exactly on March 6, 2007. Newspapers? Many Filipinos nowadays don’t read newspapers due to the presence of high-tech means of gaining news like from the internet, from TV and even from cellular phones. What if there are really some serious aspirants among them? Some of them may have the financial means to establish a nation-wide campaign for the senatorial election. As I’ve said, the commissioners of the COMELEC act more as fans of well-known people rather than real commissioners.

    And what about the enforcement of disqualifying “official candidates” based on “electioneering complaints”? I don’t know if the current batch of COMELEC commissioners have the guts to investigate such complaints. Cesar Montano- with many of his famous advertising billboards still intact all over the Philippines- is still not being investigated properly by the COMELEC. Chavit Singson- with his giving away of cash prizes in a certain raffle show as shown by video footages- is still not being properly investigated by the COMELEC. What about certain electoral reforms that the current batch of COMELEC commissioners have advocated within their current terms? Have there been such things? I hope that there are such things. There are really some “nuisance-conditions” at the COMELEC.

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