• Let’s design an automated election system … together

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    GUS LAGMAN

    GUS LAGMAN

    Part 2
    In the first installment of this series of articles, I proposed to re-design an automated election system for the Philippines, hopefully, with some participation from the readers. The first step in the process is a discussion of the pure manual system, starting with (in the first article) the precinct voting, precinct counting, the transport of the results of such counting, and in this article, the fourth and final step, which is the three-level canvassing, or consolidation of votes. (Some people refer to this as “ladderized” canvassing.)

    City/Municipal canvassing
    In order to arrive at the winning candidates for mayor, vice-mayor, and councilors in each city or municipality, the votes garnered by each of the candidates for those positions in all the precincts in that city or municipality, would have to be consolidated. This is what is referred to as city/municipal canvassing and this first level of consolidation is performed by the City/Municipal Board of Canvassers (CMBOC).

    This Board is composed of the Election Officer or a representative of the Commission as Chairman; the Municipal Treasurer as Vice-Chairman; and the District School Supervisor, or in his absence, the most senior Principal of the school district, as Member. The Board will normally wait for a sufficient number of Election Returns (ERs) to arrive before it starts its work. This is so the canvassing work would be continuous and would have a minimum of interruptions caused by the non-arrival of ERs.

    Aside from the city/municipal positions, the votes of the candidates for national, provincial, and district level positions are canvassed, as well, to prepare them for further consolidation at the next two levels of canvassing.

    Two forms are used at each level of canvassing:
    1) The Statement of Votes (SOV) – where the total votes garnered by the candidates from each precinct are entered. The precinct numbers are recorded at the top of the columns. The columns in the form are filled up as ERs arrive from the precincts. When all the precinct votes have been recorded into the SOV, totals by candidate are computed and recorded in figures and in words on the rightmost columns of the form.

    2) The Certificate of Canvass (COC) – is a summary of the SOV. The total votes per candidate appearing on the rightmost columns of the SOV (figures and words) are entered into the COC.

    The COC is then transported to the Provincial Board of Canvassers (PBOC) for further consolidation.

    Provincial canvassing
    As in city/municipal canvassing, in order to arrive at the winning candidates for governor, vice-governor, members of the provincial board, and district congressmen,the votes garnered by each of the candidates for those positions in all cities and municipalities in each province, would have to be consolidated. This is what is referred to as provincial canvassing and this second level of consolidation is performed by the Provincial Board of Canvassers (PBOC). (There are some variations to the procedures on account of multi-district provinces and chartered cities.)

    The PBOC is composed of the Provincial Election Supervisor or a lawyer of the Commission, as Chairman; the Provincial Prosecutor, as Vice- Chairman; and the District School Superintendent, as Member-Secretary.

    At this level of canvassing, an SOV (provincial version) is used to facilitate the consolidation, except that this time, the columns represent the votes in the COCs coming from all CMBOCs in the province, instead of, in ERs from precincts in a city/municipality. Totals by candidate are computed and recorded in figures and in words on the rightmost columns of the form. A Provincial Certificate of Canvass (PCOC), which is a summary of the Provincial SOV, is prepared.

    Aside from the provincial positions, the votes of the candidates for national level positions are canvassed as well, to prepare them for further consolidation at the third and last level of canvassing. The PCOCs are then transported to the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC) for the third and final consolidation of votes for national candidates.

    National canvassing
    To arrive at the winning candidates for president, vice-president, senators, and party-list, the votes garnered by each of the candidates for those positions in all provinces and chartered cities (as appearing in the PCOCs), would have to be consolidated. This is what is referred to as national canvassing and this third and final level of consolidation is performed by the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC).

    The NBOC is split into two groups of canvassers. The first – a joint Congressional committee composed of representatives coming from both Houses of Congress – canvasses the positions of president and vice-president, while the second, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) canvasses the positions of senators and party list.

    In each canvassing center, an SOV (national version) is again used to facilitate the consolidation, except that this time, the columns represent the votes in the PCOCs coming from all provinces and chartered cities in the country. Totals by candidate are computed and recorded in figures and in words on the rightmost columns of the form. A National Certificate of Canvass (NCOC), which is a summary of the national SOV, is prepared.

    After the NCOCs are completed, the winning national candidates are proclaimed, thus ending the election period.

    The pure manual system that I have just described is what the Philippines used from the first election in 1946 up to the elections in 2007.

    (The next installment, which will come out three weeks from now,will discuss the problems associated with the pure manual system, which eventually led to the solution, that is the use of automation in Philippine elections.)

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