Tomorrow, the 19th of July 2007, the COMELEC will be launching the internet voting – dubbed I-VOTE – pilot test for registered overseas absentee voters in Singapore.

Here’s the announcement:

In a major step forward along the path towards the full modernization
of Philippine elections, a non-binding remote electronic voting pilot
test will be conducted from the 20th  of July to the 8th of August
2007 in Singapore – host to over 15,000 registered Filipino overseas
absentee voters.

The pilot test aims to evaluate the advantages, usability, security,
and reliability of internet voting, in order to assess its potential
use in future elections, both overseas and domestic.

The pilot test will be jointly managed by the Commission on Elections,
the Department of Foreign Affairs – through the Philippine Embassy in
Singapore – and Scytl, the solution provider.

During the pilot test period, voters can cast their votes from their
homes, offices, and cyber cafés, in addition to the voting stations
that will be set up at the Philippine Embassy in Singapore.

Commissioner Florentino A. Tuason Jr., Chairman of the COMELEC
Committee on Overseas Absentee Voting (COAV) enjoins all overseas
Filipinos registered in Singapore, wherever they may be in the world,
to participate in the exercise, anytime from 8:00 AM of July 20 to
3:00 PM of August 8, 2007.

“Filipinos in Singapore are presented with a rare opportunity to make
history,” Commissioner Tuason said. “Although it is a non-binding
exercise, the historic opportunity to be the first to tread along the
path of modernized Philippine elections is a chance that should not be
missed,” he added.

And here’s the PDI article.

Another PDI article reports an interesting development: a shame campaign.

We’ve been proposing a shame campaign as well, one directed at candidates in elections. That way, or so the thinking goes, we get to them before they’re able to entrench themselves in power.

I’m not quite sure how it fits into the ‘shame manifesto,’ but the article seems to indicate that the following passage is indeed part of that document:

“We propose one count one canvass where the two middle canvasses are eliminated and the precinct level vote count is transmitted electronically to the national canvass center for electronic tabulation and from which local and national election results are announced. The goal is a 48-hour wait from the close of the precincts to the announcement of results.”

I agree in part. Our Law Department even tells me that their used to be only two canvasses: one at the provincial level, and the other at the national level. In practical terms, this meant that political parties needed to watch far fewer canvassing proceedings than they have to under the present set-up. Easier to watch, means easier to secure. Although we need legislative action to make this happen, we can at least do it even without automation.

The manifesto’s proposal however, takes it a step further and proposes a set-up that mirrors a Namfrel quick-count, i.e., there is a direct link (preferably electronic) between precincts and the national board of canvassers. This will definitely speed up the count, but it will also mean that the initial capital outlay will be large.

Another factor that  must be considered is the entry point of candidates’ counsels: where will they be given a chance to question the results? Just of the top of my head, I’d say that, first, the national canvass must remain open to challenge from counsels – which means a 48-hour waiting time for proclamation will probably not happen; and second, counsels must be present at the counting level, there to challenge everything they want to. Perhaps a better solution would be to restore the old system where the BEIs are composed of, not three teachers, but one teacher to act as chairman, and representatives from the dominant majority and the dominant minority as 2nd and 3rd members. That way, the counter checking is built in into the counting process.

I hope these changes can be made in time for 2010.


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