By Gab Humilde Villegas | Daily Tribune
The National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) on Tuesday proposed the chronological listing of candidates based on unique numbers assigned to them in the May 2022 polls.
The election watchdog said the numbers may be randomly drawn at the Commission on Elections (Comelec), in the presence of the candidates and parties or their representatives, and the assigned numbers will be announced to the public just before the start of the campaign period.
Namfrel said their proposal will make it easier for voters who have poor eyesight or cannot read to search the numbers assigned to their chosen candidate. It will also prevent candidates from using an alias to be on top or near the top of the list.
The proposal will likewise minimize the importance of name recall and advantage of well-known surnames during the campaign, minimize pre-election campaign as number assigned to the candidates can only be released by Comelec before the start of the campaign period, and to be a possible solution to have no undervotes, for the position of the vice president and partylist.
Under the proposal, voters will make sure that they will have the numbers of their chosen candidates on hand just before voting.
Aside from ballot reformatting, Namfrel also proposed the use of the open source election for the Automated Election System (AES).
Namfrel said this would open for Comelec more prospective bidders for the component, instead of usually being tied up with the same company supplying the hardware.
Namfrel encouraged the election body to open up the local source review of software to more IT experts, and allow participants to use other methods they deem fit to test the source code. By adopting the enhancements, the AES will be more competitive, less costly, and more transparent.
The group also proposed the end-to-end use of Election mark-up language format to avoid possible delays and to increase the credibility of the election results.
Namfrel said that it would make easier for the Comelec to conduct end-to-end test of the AES prior to the elections.
Namfrel proposes the printing of QR codes on both election returns (ER), and the voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) to make the counting process more participatory and transparent.
According to Namfrel, the QR codes would enable stakeholders, such as election watchdogs, political parties, or any interested individuals to gather results, if parties have devices with QR code readers for the purpose of vote counting.
Namfrel also added that having QR codes on both ER and VVPAT would also facilitate audit check of the results, even in the polling precinct. They also called for the correct implementation of the digital signature.
The group said that this could ensure that electronic results can be verified as authentic, even if the results from vote counting machines were not electronically transmitted, due to poor Internet connectivity.
The proposals are part of Namfrel’s position paper submitted to the Comelec and to Congress in June entitled “Enhancing the AES with the Adoption and Implementation of Technical Standards.”
Namfrel also expressed that the proposal will hopefully be adopted by the election body for the 2022 national and local elections.