Press Release | April 23, 2019
IT advocacy group Computer Professionals Union hit the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) for downplaying irregularities during the first few days of overseas absentee voting (OAV). This is amid reports coming in from different countries of problems encountered by voters in polling centers using vote counting machines (VCMs).
Based on reports from migrants groups in Hong Kong reported to KontraDaya, ballots were rejected in 5 precincts, VCMs had breakdowns in 4 precincts, and there were inconsistencies between the receipt printed by the VCM and actual votes cast by voters in 3 precincts. A news report also quoted Consul General Antonio Morales reporting problems with some ballots’ barcode.
Other news reports point to the initial unavailability of the computerized list of voters in Al-Khobar, a VCM with a broken seal in Jeddah, insufficient ballots in Russia, double ballots in Italy, and more than 3,000 voters disenfranchised in Damascus, Tripoli and Baghdad due to the absence of polling centers for Filipino OFWs.
“This is not mere fake news, or something minor, as the Comelec would like to call it. Countermeasures should have been in place at the get-go to ensure that VCMs don’t malfunction and break down, ballots are in order, and polling precincts are prepared,” said Mac Yanto, who acts as deputy coordinator for CPU. “These are actual instances of hardworking Filipinos working abroad whose votes are not being counted properly, if not at all. The disenfranchisement of voters, regardless of their number, represents a violation of their basic democractic right to vote.”
Yanto further pointed out that COMELEC has not significantly improved since the automated election system was first rolled out in 2010. “This is the fourth time we’re doing automated elections and yet we’re still encountering the same problems we’ve experienced, in the Philippines and our overseas posts, since 2010,” said Mac Yanto, coordinator of CPU and convener of Kontra Daya. “It’s not like we’re doing this for the first time. By now there should be more stringent systems and counter-measures in place to ensure smooth, transparent, peaceful, and accurate elections.”
Furthermore, Yanto added, “The public should be warned and vigilant in the face of what appears to be the same irregularities we have seen in the past nine years of automated elections. We encourage our fellow Filipinos to help us guard our votes and our ballots by reporting any irregularities to VoteReportPH (#VoteReportPH) and Kontra Daya (@KontraDaya)”.#