The Manila Times - Sotto bats for hybrid elections

10 July 2019

By Bernadette E. Tamayo | The Manila Times

SENATE President Vicente Sotto 3rd pushed for the adoption of a “hybrid” election system to address issues hounding the automated elections system.

The veteran senator filed Senate Bill (SB) 7, seeking the holding of hybrid national and local elections through “manual voting and counting at the precinct level, and automated transmission and canvassing.”

He said past national and local elections were plagued with numerous unresolved issues and irregularities, thus the use of a different polling system is needed.

“As what I have revealed during my privilege speech last March 6, 2018, in the 2016 elections, a series of early transmission of votes can be seen from the logs of the Comelec (Commission on Elections) servers,” Sotto said.

He said the transmission of votes happened on May 8, 2016 and in the very early morning of May 9, 2016, prior to the official start of the elections.

“There is no way that these were only testing transmissions for the reason that the testing period already ended on April 23, 2016,” Sotto said.

The National Citizen’s Movement for Free Elections confirmed in a report that the integrity of the automated election system was undermined in the 2016 polls.

“This is due to an intrusion of an unauthorized transparency queue server while the system is actively receiving data. This bill aims to address the issues of a fully automated election system,” Sotto said.

He explained that under a manual voting and counting, the public would have an unimpeded view of the real time input of votes.

“Also, the total number of valid ballots used, as well as the results will reflect both in a manual and digital election returns,” he said.

“In case of a discrepancy between the manual and digital election returns, the former shall prevail,” Sotto said.

In addition, the digital election return would be projected while the entries were being recorded in real time for the benefit of the viewing public, he said.

This way, the voters would be able to ascertain the accuracy between the votes cast and those being transmitted electronically, the senator said.

This mode would strengthen the integrity of the elections and forego with the issues like early and inaccurate transmission of votes, he added.

“With this hybrid system of manual voting and counting at the precinct level and automated transmission and canvassing, the 2019 and all subsequent elections will surely be accurate and transparent,” Sotto said.