Monday, August 1, 2022

E-voting wins big among Philippine voters; earns praise worldwide



Nine out of ten Filipino voters prefer future elections to be automated, according to a new Pulse Asia survey.

The findings are part of the result of the survey commissioned by brain trust Stratbase ADR in the wake of the country’s general elections in May.

Since the country had starting using e-voting in 2010, approval for elections had sharply risen, from 30% in the last manual election to 82% in the most recent automated election.

Aside from 90% of voters finding the elections credible and trustworthy, the survey also revealed that 95% of the 1,200 respondents’ voters found the vote counting machines (VCMs) easy to use.

The polling firm observed widespread acceptance of the automated election system notwithstanding isolated reports of some voters waiting in line for hours in the stifling heat.

"We find here that nine out of 10 Filipinos are satisfied with the vote counting machines, significantly higher in [the] Mindanao [region], [where] you have 99% expressing satisfaction with the vote counting machines," Pulse Asia President Ronnie Holmes said in a forum.

The survey showed that two-thirds of Filipino adults believe that the 2022 elections are "more credible now" compared to the presidential polls in 2016, while 18% said these were "as credible as before." Only 6% said the election results were less credible this year.

The survey findings are consistent with the results of the mandatory Random Manual Audit where the electronic results registered a 99.95% match with manual count of ballots from 746 randomly selected precincts.

The elections also earned plaudits from the international circles.

Ned Price, US State Department Spokesman said that “the casting and counting of votes were conducted in line with international standards and without significant incident.”

The head of the observation mission from the Carter Center, Peter Wardle, noted that the elections were well-run, saying that “We found in our analysis of the election process that there were no significant gaps in the process and in particular, to pick up the theme of trust, we were impressed by the fact that in the Philippines, there are a number of mechanisms which are running either alongside or as a check on the automated voting to help build trust in the process.

Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koshiwaka Kazuhiko cited the smooth conduct of the election.

“I was honored to have witnessed first-hand this incredible exercise of democracy. I look forward to working with the new administration in bringing Japan and Philippine ties to greater heights,” he said in a tweet.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Presidential candidate in Brazil to seek own voting system audit

In the feverish run up to the Brazilian elections in October, President Jair Bolsonaro is seeking an audit of the voting system, a move that comes after the embattled leader had relentlessly questioned the credibility of the country’s voting systems.

“As allowed by electoral law, we will hire a company to do the audit,” Bolsonaro said.

“People want transparent elections in which the vote is effectively counted for their candidate.”

The president’s sweeping claims had been met with backlash, the most furious of which had come from Brazil’s Supreme Electoral Court judges who had flatly refuted Bolsonaro’s allegations and categorically declaring that Brazil’s electoral system is free of fraud.

Luis Barroso, president of Brazil’s Supreme Electoral Court, once fired back at Bolsonaro saying “threatening the realization of an election represents anti-democratic behavior. Polluting the public debate with disinformation, lies, hatred and conspiracy theories represents anti-democratic behavior.”

Surprisingly, Bolsonaro appears to have made a fatal misstep as a recent Genial/Quaest opinion survey shows that his bombastic attacks on the voting system is turning off moderate voters. Furthermore, despite the vitriol spewed against the voting system, trust of electronic voting machines among Brazilians has increased to 22% of the electorate from a low of 27% in September, the survey revealed.

More alarmingly for Bolsonaro, the poll also showed that voter support for him dipped after three months of gains against former Lula.

The survey indicated that if the elections were held in April, Lula would have won 46% of the votes against 29% for Bolsonaro. Lula is on track to reaching 50% of the votes and winning the election right in the first round, according to the survey. In case the contest goes to a second-round runoff, the survey said that Lula would defeat Bolsonaro by 54% versus 34%.

"Voters believe the president is wrong to confront the Supreme Court, to question the credibility of electronic voting machines," said survey director Felipe Nunes.

Moderate voters are the swing votes that could be key to winning the election because most supporters of Bolsonaro or Lula have already decided who they will vote for.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Filipinos buck pandemic, heat; hold successful elections

 


Despite the oppressive summer heat that peaked at 90°F and the lingering presence of Covid, voters turned out in record numbers as officials staged an efficient Philippine 2022 election with minimal disruptions.

The 2022 elections were accurate and fast. On election night, results were published with 85% of election returns electronically transmitted to canvassing centers. The process was the fastest yet in the country’s history, which international observer election watchdogs have deemed to be above-board.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said the May 9 elections were conducted according to international standards and without any major incident.

Turnout exceeded 53 million – or 80% of eligible voters – a substantial showing in a country that had been averaging a 76% turnout for the past two decades.

Despite the abundance of disinformation, Filipinos trust their election automation. According to two independent surveys, most Filipino voters trusted the results of the country’s 2019 elections (89%) and they are overwhelmingly satisfied with the automated election system (87%). Another survey revealed that 9 out of 10 Filipinos want all their future elections to be automated.

This is a trend that has held fast since the first automated elections in 2010 – and with good reason. The automated system has yielded accuracy above 99.9% since it was first introduced. Further, results are published just hours after the polls close, not weeks or months as it had been with manual elections.

While trust in the electoral process and turnout are seeing a decline in most parts of the world, Filipinos are finding a good reason to be proud of their election.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Spanish tech firm embroiled in Colombian election mess

 


Spanish technology company Indra finds itself in the center of controversy after being involved in the recent Colombian legislative election where a difference of 7% was found between the preliminary count and the final count of the votes.

In the final count announced by the Registrar five days after the election, more than 400,000 new votes were found in favor of Historic Pact, the party of the candidate Gustavo Petro. The discrepancy resulted in the party going from from 16 to 19 senators to the detriment of the Conservative Party, the Green Alliance, and the Democratic Center, which lost one senator each.

The usual difference in most Latin American countries that have preliminary results systems ranges from 0.5% to 1%. In Colombia, the difference between the two counts had never been greater than 1%.

The unusual discrepancy in the results comes as the South American country is gripped by political tension and is feared to erode perceived electoral integrity, an ominous development ahead of the looming presidential elections.

In these cases, international election watchdogs advise electoral officials to declare as clearly and precisely as possible the origin of these discrepancies, in order to ensure that public confidence in the system is maintained. Contrary to this, the Colombian Registry has not given clear answers. Currently the Registrar is being harshly questioned by various political sectors that demand answers, including Senator María Fernanda Cabal, and former President Andrés Pastrana.

Suspicions stemmed from the questionable hiring of Indra on December 29, 2021, while the country was on a break for the holidays. In a bidding process that the Registrar's Office had initially declared void, Indra competed with itself and received the contract to oversee the preliminary counting software at the national level.

Questions deepened after Gustavo Petro and two senior Indra officials had a meeting in Madrid, presumably brokered registrar Alexander Vega. The clandestine meeting was exposed by former president Andrés Pastrana, who filed a disciplinary complaint with the Attorney General's Office against the registrar.

Today, just two months before the presidential elections, Colombia is facing a clamor for a total recount of votes by different political forces and demands for Alexander Vega to resign due to the irregular handling of contracts in the Registry.

Election experts fear this to be the worst legitimacy crises in the electoral process in decades and a stinging reminder of the need for the country to get serious in modernizing its electoral process. With the use of a modern and efficient voting system, Colombia could put an end to the decades-old problem of results manipulation as well as any problems related to ambiguous ballot markings.