Thursday, June 20, 2019

Impartiality of automated election systems making a difference in Philippine polls

One hallmark of automated elections is the minimization of human intervention. This contrasts starkly to manual elections where human subjectivity is found at every stage, exposing the vote to too many points of failure.

The impartiality of an automated elections system is rooted in the fact that it makes no distinction between who wins or loses. If has been said that if the system cares about anything at all, it is to count votes correctly.

This was all too evident during the National and Local Elections held in May where politicians from across the political spectrum praised and questioned the results. While the noise seemingly argues against automated elections, perceptive observers point to this as solid evidence that the automated system is completely impartial and merely counts votes accurately with no regard for winners and losers.

After Election Day, an obligatory Random Manual Audit (RMS) was conducted. The audit established that the electronic count matched with the paper ballots 99.9953% of the time. The results from previous automation do not vary much – every automated election in the Philippines has been marked with extraordinary accuracy.

This has led to a progressively declining number of protest cases being filed. In the Philippines, as in many other countries, losing candidates have the right to file a protest to review and audit a specific contest. Interestingly, not one election protest filed under the automated system has resulted in a reversal, further attesting to the impartiality and accuracy of the system.

Moreover, the impartiality of the automated elections system has resulted in more peaceful elections in the Philippines. The country has had a long history of election-related violence under manual elections where poll workers have been coerced and killed in the line of duty.  

The cold and dispassionate automated election systems has, in effect, doused cold water on the overheated Philippine election scene. Unlike manual, which is interminably long and is subject to human weaknesses, the counting in AES is over before things can even start to heat up.

The Philippine experience has been showing how technology can be harnessed to improve elections. It is high time the world takes notice and take a page from this election automation trailblazer.