May 9 polls historic – Democracy Watch

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THE Philippines made history when it held national elections on May 9, 2016 because of several feats never achieved before by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), according to Democracy Watch, a citizen-led democratic initiative.

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The group on Thursday said the elections saw the largest deployment of Vote Counting Machines (VCM) not only in the Philippines and the region but the whole world. Some glitches were reported but these incidents were negligible and did not detract from the efficiency of the polls in general.

On May 9, Filipinos created one of the largest paper audit trails in the history of elections with over 43 million voter-marked ballots and corresponding voter receipts, as well as over two million count reports, which are available for auditing.

The number of Filipinos who voted translated to an 81.7-percent turnout, one of the largest in recent memory, Democracy Watch said as it lauded the Comelec and all agencies and groups that helped ensure the holding of successful and credible elections.

“The world saw more than 44 million Filipinos troop to their respective polling precincts and made their voices heard through a process that has long been a cornerstone of our democracy,” Democracy Watch, a social initiative of advisory and research consultancy group Stratbase Research Institute (SRi), said in a statement.

“An election that is near-universally hailed as one of the most successful and credible in history should be above senseless politicking,” Claudette Guevara, the group’s secretary general, said.

She noted that the polls required the recruitment, hiring and training of more than 45,000 field technicians in less than three months and the printing of 56 million ballots in 49 days.

She added that the Comelec was able to proclaim an astounding 99.96 percent of all 18,000 or so elective positions 10 days after the elections.

“That more than 20,000 losing candidates conceded by election night further attests to a stable belief in the polls’ credibility. Foreign observers and governments were likewise impressed. Clearly, faster results mean less instability and inspire greater confidence in the process,” Guevara said.

The random manual audits completed—715 precincts—went beyond the required one per legislative district, she added.

“We also call on Comelec to conduct a speedy investigation of these claims of manipulation so that the true voice of the people will be upheld,” it said.

Technology provider Smartmatic and the Comelec had said the changing of the script of the Comelec’s transparency server was merely “cosmetic’ and did not affect the result of the polls.

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