The malfunctioning VCMs

The malfunctioning VCMs

The Filipino people, through more than 60 million qualified and registered voters, have spoken and staked the tricolors on their and the younger generations’ future.

A day after the political exercise, former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., perceived as the vice-presidential winner in the 2016 general elections, was seen as poised to become the country’s 17th president.

He will succeed the 77-year-old President Rodrigo Duterte, whose daughter Sara is leading the pack, based on unofficial partial returns from the Comelec, who will bow out of office at noon on June 30 after a six-year term.

Also, a day after the Commission on Elections en banc convened as the National Board of Canvassers for the official canvassing of election results for senators and party-list groups that participated in the Monday exercise, a boisterous crowd, watched keenly by police, staged a protest rally under the noon sun, fearing disenfranchisement because they had malfunctioning Vote Counting Machines in their respective clustered precincts.

Alongside their claim, they mouthed the repeated contention of losers the election lost its credibility because the margin between Marcos and Vice President Leni Robredo was too wide and was not, in their myopic view, not believable.

That was the same declaration of Robredo sympathizers in the last week of the 90-day campaign who questioned every letter of the alphabet in the mechanics of the scientific surveys done by reputable firms –all pointing to Marcos as a run-away winner.

We are glad the Comelec immediately addressed the issue and stressed the impact of defective vote-counting machines on voters was “not significant” when compared to the glitches encountered in the previous elections.

Comelec Commissioner Marlon Casquejo, chairman of the election body’s steering committee, reported that 915 VCMs malfunctioned during election day Monday but such did not affect many voters.

Comelec acting spokesman Rex Laudiangco also said voters were not disenfranchised by the VCM glitches, adding “all of these lessons will be taken to heart by the commission.”

Over 106,000 VCMs were deployed in clustered precincts nationwide.

Meanwhile, a congressional leader urged the House of Representatives to look into the reported failure to function of vote-counting machines in many urban and rural polling places across the country.

Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez said defects in the VCMs and their secure digital (SD) or memory cards resulted in the disenfranchisement of thousands of voters.

“We owe it to our voters to investigate these reports and recommend remedial measures, either via legislation or administrative sanctions or penalties to be imposed by the Commission on Elections on responsible personnel and/or its automation service provider, Smartmatic,” he said.

Rodriguez, who is on the way to being reelected as representative of Cagayan de Oro’s second district based on unofficial results, said the country had been experiencing VCM and SD card malfunction problems since it shifted to automation from manual voting.

“The Comelec and its automation contractor have not resolved these issues. There has to be a solution,” he stressed.

Casquejo said they already anticipated that some machines would encounter problems.

“There’s no such thing as a perfect system. Even your cellphone, iPhone, or whatever, would suddenly hang, what is important is the malfunction is not as significant as in the election s in 2019.”

He said there were 106,000 VCMs, with just over 900 eventually malfunctioning.

He added he would recommend the procurement of new election machines to replace the “aging” VCMs in time for the 2025 midterm elections when he would retire three months before the May elections.

We are as well gladdened that Comelec will conduct a random manual audit of more than 700 vote-counting machines to determine their accuracy for this year’s national and local elections.

Commissioner Aimee Ferolino said the RMA was meant to “erase doubts” about the electoral system, saying the RMA was a process whether the automated count of the vote-counting machines under an Automated Election System was accurate based on the manual verification of the said count.

“The random manual audit will determine and will bolster our faith in the electoral system. That the machine count is accurate and that the machine counts is what is reflected in the ballots,” Ferolino said.

She said the RMA would be a long and difficult and tedious job because after feeding it to the machines, they will count it manually for comparison.

As the humidity and political heat from the 2022 election starts to settle down – or that’s what we hope – the elected leaders should now prepare to give flesh to their political platforms as they prepare to take their respective oaths of office.

And the people, the voters, and the non-voters are watching their leaders. (ai/mtvn)

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