Comelec eyes automation of village, youth polls

Comelec eyes automation of village, youth polls

MANILA – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is planning to automate the succeeding Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) after the Oct. 30, 2023 polls.

“There is no turning back for us anymore. Let us proceed with the automation. We can no longer proceed using the manual elections,” Comelec chairman George Garcia said in a press briefing Tuesday.

He noted that they want to use the automated election system (AES) for the welfare of Electoral Board (EBs) members and to help reduce election-related violence incidents.

“If we allow early voting hours for senior citizens, persons with disability, pregnant women, indigenous people, it would mean that teachers will need to be in their assigned precincts as early as 4 a.m. They will then need to manually count the votes until early morning the next day. That will be a pitiful situation for them,” the poll body chief said.

“In the BSKE, the longer vote counting goes, the more it becomes vulnerable to violence. Once there is a trend on who is winning, the emergence of violence becomes more probable.”

On the other hand, Garcia said such a plan is possible if Congress provides them with the necessary budget for new voting machines for the May 2025 national and local polls.

“It is our plan that if Congress allows us to change voting machines (for 2025), the one we will be leasing will be good for two years, or including the BSKE 2026. We will proceed with the automation unless we won’t be given the necessary budget,” he added.

Since 2010, the national and local elections have used the AES, while the manual system of voting has been used in all BSKEs.

In the October 2023 polls, the Comelec will pilot test the AES in three barangays in Luzon – the villages of Zone II Poblacion and Paliparan III in Dasmariñas City, Cavite, and Barangay Pasong Tamo in the sixth district of Quezon City. (PNA)

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