YOU read it right! The futuristic concept of elections using lotto-type system is now spreading virally throughout the country. It used to be just a mere bright idea decades ago when it was observed then that the popularly known online lottery of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office could be applied as a conceptual framework in the automated national and local elections (NLE). Believe it or not, it is now a reality because of the emergence of the latest developments in hand-held technology called tablet.
In the early part of May 2015, Engineer Arnold Villasanta presented the lotto concept to Automated Election System (AES) Watch. I asked him, “How long can you come up with a working prototype?” He said, “One month using the matured and commercially off-the-shelf tablet technology.” But after two weeks, the father and son tandem of Arnold and Angelo presented to AES Watch the prototype.
The following are comments from Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG), a co-convener and secretariat of AES Watch:
Dr. Pablo Manalastas: “I love your lotto-type election system!”
Miss Evi Jimenez: “Let’s call it TrAnsPArenT (TAPAT) Election System under the Filipino IT for Elections (FIT4E) movement.” TAPAT is the Tagalog word for FAITH, which Prof. Toti Casino said stands for Fair, Accurate, with Integrity, Transparent and Honest.
Prof. Bobby Tuazon: “Very promising!”
From then on, AES Watch has been supporting two alternative solutions to Smartmatic’s PCOS or Optical Mark Reader (OMR) machines; that is, the Precinct Automated Tallying System (PATaS), which is commonly known as a hybrid system, and TAPAT, which is using what we call the lotto-boto device.
About the status quo of PATaS, we all know that the Comelec junked it as their third option for the 2016 NLE. They calculated last week that it’s too expensive at P16 billion cost and became P20 billion the following day!? I don’t believe that Chairman Andy Bautista, a professional with integrity, would pronounce such varying figures without basing on appropriate studies! That’s really bloated from the original estimate of Former Comelec Commissioner Gus Lagman of only P4 billion. To date, Comelec still has to explain how it came up with that huge number.
Then, pro-PCOS politicians were saying PATaS is slow and the teachers would not want to go back to manual. This is another fallacy as PATaS is not manual! It is called hybrid because its automated count is validated by public counting. The ballot reading in PATaS can still be brought down from maximum of 1.5 minutes (i.e., based on mock elections in Bacoor, Cavite) to 30 seconds if the Tally Board would be removed. Besides, Mr. Benjamin Valbuena, chairman of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, belied what PCOS supporters have been telling the media. He said the teachers are supporting transparent election system, like PATaS and TAPAT, and they abhor cheating.
Now, what about TAPAT? Why is AES Watch supporting it? Just like PATaS, TAPAT is also transparent (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQZ6NkUGx7U). The following are the main features of TAPAT:
Automated and Transparent. Better than any OMR or PCOS machines in the world including Smartmatic’s, the processes in TAPAT involve the voter doing the shading of votes, placing the ballot in the jig for scanning of votes, validation of ballot with scanned image, printing of VVPAT, validation of ballot with VVPAT and insertion of the ballot and VVPAT in the ballot box. PCOS has no VVPAT and no Filipino voter was given a chance to verify whether his votes in 2010 and 2013 elections were really counted;
Integrated. TAPAT has capability to facilitate immediate random audit or public counting features of PATaS;
Cost effective. Tablet would only cost P10,000 or less per device compared with multibillion-peso worth of tax payers’ money for thousands of PCOS machines that need warehousing (P400 million/year) and refurbishment/repair (P2 billion). Smartmatic implemented non-transparent and non-compliant AES with the automated election law (Republic Act 9369);
Easy to install. Setting up is very easy by simply inserting the handy tablet in the jig and operate it right away. Unlike PCOS that has mylar or drum that caused the digital lines in past elections, there are no moving parts in TAPAT.
No Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) and external power required during elections. PCOS machines need UPS to stabilize input power and it serves as back-up power for 15 to 30 minutes in case of brownout.
No Election Management System needed.