The canvassing of votes is moving at a glacial pace. This is unacceptable. We live in an era when information hurtles at the speed of light. Instead of giving us speed, the Smartmatic system has given us delays.
Here we are, six days after the elections, and the Commission on Elections has yet to complete the process. Only seven of the 12 candidates have been proclaimed, with the fate of the rest still hanging in the balance.
Understandably, criticism is raining down on the Commission on Elections. The canvassing of votes seems to have ground to a halt, and all Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. can do is offer excuses. He blames the problem on the supposed glitches in data transmission. If that is the case, then the Smartmatic technology has failed. This is ironic because we have adopted technology precisely to speed up the electoral process—and, hopefully, find out the true sentiment of the people.
It doesn’t help Mr. Brillantes’ credibility that Smart and Globe, the two telecom giants, have issued statements denying that problems occurred in their systems at the time when the PCOS machines were supposed to be transmitting the data.
So where does the problem lie? The good chairman cannot blame people for their mistrust.
Automation is supposed to banish human intervention, and by intervention people generally mean the alteration of results to favor certain candidates. But it seems we haven’t done away with that after all. On the contrary, the people now suspect, shadowy figures are out to sabotage the elections.
In some cases in the past, the local Comelec registrar, the city or provincial fiscal (now prosecutor), and the superintendent of schools, who make up the board of canvassers, used subvert the electoral process for a fee.
Never mind the representatives of the two dominant parties who sit as members of the board as well. They live in a world of partisan politics, where deal-making is the norm, and so these party representatives are easily corrupted. But the high government officials mentioned above are supposed to be honorable men and women, as proclaimed by the title appended to their names. That is not the case, unfortunately.
Mercifully, computerization seems to have a positive effect, at least on local elections. The canvassing of votes at the city and provincial levels is proceeding apace, and the winning candidates get to be proclaimed within a reasonable period of time.
Why can’t the Comelec do the same in the case of senatorial candidates?
It is inconceivable that Mr. Brillantes, or any commissioner for that matter, would tolerate any attempt to manipulate the results. But their official acts, or lack thereof, hardly inspire confidence.