The Manila Times : Experts recommend hybrid polls for 2022

1 August 2021

By William Depasupil | The Manila Times

Election and information technology experts believe that using a hybrid election system instead of an automated election system (AES) is the Philippines' best option in next year's national poll.

Former Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioner and current National Movement for Free Elections president Gus Lagman said shifting to hybrid polls, which entail manual counting and electronic canvassing and transmission of votes, would enhance the transparency and accuracy of election results.

"The advantage of hybrid is it enhances transparency and accuracy. All steps of election process are transparent, the precinct tally are seen by the voters. In PCOS (precinct count optical scan machines), you don't see the tally and we accepts those results - nobody questions the results," Lagman explained during the "Archer Talks" online forum on Friday.

"We wish that the Comelec would count the votes manually instead of just showing us the results without us finding out how the votes were counted. I'm recommending that the votes be counted manually but at the same time there should be assistance from a person with a laptop so that as the votes are being counted, one is added to the candidate that was just read from the ballot. So, manual and laptop-assisted," he added.

Lagman pointed out that an AES costs the government P10 billion every election, while the hybrid system will only cost P300 million.

"Vulnerability to cheating is very low - only retail cheating if at all. Software use is open source and can be reviewed by anybody interested," Lagman said.

Lagman cited that progressive countries like Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands and even some states in the United States have reverted to manual counting because automated counting is not transparent.

The only disadvantage, Lagman explained, is that tallying time will be 5 to 10 hours longer compared to using PCOS.

Meanwhile, Nelson Celis of Automated Election System Watch, agreed that total automation of the election process will remove transparency, adding there's still time to choose the hybrid method.

"It was done in 2004, four months before the elections.It can also be done [now]; there's still plenty of time before the May 9, 2022 elections,"

Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said the proposal to use a hybrid election system in next year's national polls was not feasible because the combination of manual voting and counting of votes, and automated canvassing and transmission would defeat the purpose of a speedy and credible elections.

Guanzon said the counting of votes for president and vice president alone, done manually, would take weeks or even a month to finish.