Automating Barangay, SK 2018 Polls Pushed

By Rose de la Cruz

Rep. Frederick W. Siao, lone district Iligan City, is pushing for the use of vote counting machines in the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, which had just been postponed, for the third time. Barangay polls is set to May 2018.

President Duterte had just ordered the postponement of barangay and SK elections to ensure that there would be adequate preparations for them. But previously, the President voiced his preference for barangays to be just appointed, not elected.

Siao, in authoring the bill at the lower chamber postponing the barangay and SK elections to 2018, said the deferment would give everyone concerned time to sort out matters, figure out how the elections can be conducted in an orderly, peaceful, accurate, and credible way.

As member of the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms, he said, the barangay and SK elections should also use the vote counting machines.

Timely and accurate counting of votes cast must also be done at the barangay level, not just for other elections.

Siao said he is aware that this will pose technical challenges to the Commission on Elections because they would have to configure the vote counting machines' processing and memory cards to specifically match with each barangay to which the machines are sent. 

“What we seek to prevent here are long delays in the vote counting and the political violence and electoral fraud that often come with the long delays,” he stressed.

As many are aware of, election violence is prevalent at the barangay and other local elections. Familiarity can breed contempt and contempt can percolate into election-related violence.

Not to mention, the voters’ lists are still disorderly and voters still experience many problems looking for their names during elections. These problems are entirely preventable and solvable, but the solutions keep eluding us despite the many advances in technology available to us, he added.

Electronic transmission of election results from the precincts has also been a problem that beset previous automated and computerized elections. There are still many precinct locations that are not within the coverage area or where Internet or mobile signals are virtually non-existent. 

This is a problem the telecommunications companies and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) must address in coordination with Comelec.

 

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