Daily Tribune – Time to junk automated polls

By Ninez Cacho-Olivares | Daily Tribune

The Liberal Party’s Otso Diretso candidates must have known beforehand that they had no chance at all to win Senate seats in the 2019 senatorial polls, mainly because the LP, supposedly headed by former President Noynoy Aquino, had no known and popular candidates who were tapped to run.

“Given the fact that the country has had at least four automated elections, it was largely expected that the poll body and its officials and officers would have prepared for the polls and tested all the machines.

True, the yellows could count on the votes from Metro Manila’s “privileged crowd” but even they knew that the bulk of the votes always comes from the masses, and the LP and its Otso Diretso certainly knew that they had little to no chance of resonating with the masa — at least not at this time.

In past elections, opposition candidates, despite their having lost power and influence, were still able to make it to the Senate and, instead of going it alone, they generally teamed up with other opposition members not belonging to their group or party to merge as one opposition force, and some of the then opposition candidates won.

It also helped that some were reelectionists, and were fairly known to the electorate. Their victory also depended on how the electorate viewed the Malacañang occupant. An unpopular president had his/her bets losing the elections.

Unfortunately for the opposition and its yellow Senate bets, the same conditions do not exist this time around and it was so evident that they had to get relatively unknown electoral candidates who hardly were popular and did not have the personality, charisma and the network to get the masses to vote for them.

Just who were the LP’s Otsos fielded this election year?

There were at least two Otsos that had the name recall and the familiarity with the electorate to get a senatorial seat: Reelectionist Sen. Bam Aquino and Mar Roxas, but despite their being fairly known and recognizable with the electorate, they still lost in the polls. As of press time, Aquino and Roxas were out of the Magic 12 circle.

But other Otsos who threw their yellow hats into the ring were not particularly known or popular political figures, such as human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, Neri Colmenares, Samira Gutoc, former Quezon Rep. Erin Tañada, Romy Macalintal, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano and former solicitor general Florin Hilbay. They were expected to lose even before the elections.

One losing Otso, Colmenares, a partylister, denounced the results of the senatorial race and said he will “never” concede defeat as he called Monday’s midterm election a “rotten exercise that has basically deceived, bribed, intimidated and manipulated our people into electing the worst kinds of leaders imaginable.”

First off, it really doesn’t matter whether the partylister concedes or not, because he is way out of the Magic 12 list of candidates that made it.

But Colmenares must have known he wouldn’t have a chance to win a Senate seat, having already lost in the 2016 elections.

However, the partylister appears to have forgotten the past automated polls where he lost when he was an administration bet.

One can agree with Colmenares that the elections, even not quite completely rotten, again raised the specter of automated fraud, through the usual automated vote-shaving method, such as that which happened in 2016, where overnight, vice presidential bet Bongbong Marcos lost his millions in transmitted votes and discovering the millions in his lost votes to Leni Robredo, his rival.

Despite the many explanations from the Commission on Elections commissioners and chairman, given the fact that the country has had at least four automated elections, it was largely expected that the poll body and its officials and officers would have prepared for the polls and tested all the machines, SD cards, transmittal “transparency” servers and even the voters registration machine to check on the voters identity, as well as Comelec doing a thorough testing that should include the voting machines being tested in heated areas, since that is claimed to be the problem.

SD cards are said to have been made with inferior materials and were obviously defective, which was also the problem in 2010, 2013 and now, in 2019.

Yet the same problems with the Smartmatic voting machines, transmittals to the transparency server, which apparently are under the control of a third party, surface year after electoral year, with the Comelec coming up with excuses that don’t ring true, since these are the same problems encountered. Yet Comelec continues to rely on Smartmatic machines.

There are again calls to return to manual polls, as well as calls from senators to hold investigations and hearings on the same snafu occurring in every automated polls.

The Senate and the House, in joint hearings on the Comelec-Smartmatic snafu, will just be a repeat of past investigations, where nothing comes out of the probes.

It really is time to junk not only Smartmatic, but to junk automated elections and go for hybrid polls, with a manual count and automatic vote counting — but not with Smartmatic machines — for the elections so that candidates can be rid of suspicions of rigged polls.

Besides, the public and candidates will know from where their votes come.

Any which way one looks at it, automatic polls in this country only bring about more suspicions, and more automated fraud.

It’s the institutions that are being destroyed by automated fraud.

It is also time for the poll body to get rid of the Comelec cheating syndicate that continues to exist.

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