Comelec turns down revival of manual voting

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The Commission on Elections (Comelec) continues to resist growing calls to revert to manual voting for the 2016 polls and is standing by its preference for automated voting.

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Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said manual voting will only favor politicians and bring back the hardships of the electorate and poll workers.

Jimenez said elections workers, particularly teachers serving as Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs), were subject to fatigue as well as threats and pressure under the manual system.

“These are precisely the things that automation seeks to address,” pointed Jimenez.

“This is not for the Comelec’s benefit. We are not doing this for our own health.”

He said that without the automated system, manipulation of votes would become easier in a manual voting system.

“We are doing this for the benefit of the electorate. It’s the electorate that will benefit from this (automated system). It’s the election workers who benefit from this. It’s the nation that benefits from this,” Jimenez said.

“Unfortunately, it makes life a little harder for politicians,” he said.

If critics of automation “are really hell bent on downgrading elections to manual [voting]then please, again that’s their right and if they want to do it then we won’t stand in their way,” Jimenez said.

The Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) is urging Congress to pass a law that will require the manual casting and counting of votes in the 2016 elections.

Several congressmen joined the call to amend the Republic Act 9369, which mandated an automated elections from 2010 onwards.

“Is it possible for a law to be passed to amend it [RA9369]? Absolutely.

But that is their [lawmakers]problem, not ours. If you want to amend that law, then that’s fine,” Jimenez said.

“We are not part of the legislative process. They can ask for our opinion. But if we say that we don’t agree, it is not stonewalling. That’s just our opinion,” he said.

Jimenez urged lawmakers to decide on changing the election system as soon as possible since the next presidential election is less than two years away.

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