Thursday, May 21, 2020

After a decade of automated polls, the Philippines stand as a positive reference

Elections in the Philippine have been among the most hotly contested in the world, with election protests being a fixture in the arsenal of many candidates unwilling to accept defeat. But since 2010, when the country adopted an automated elections system, it has seen a dramatic improvement in how elections are run. Key metrics such as accuracy in the vote count, transparency measures put in place and trust in results have steadily improved while the number of electoral protests filed has noticeably been in steep decline.

A recent assessment by the Manila-based think tank Stratbase ADR Institute for Strategic and International Studies, found the 2019  Philippine midterm elections to be “well-run” for achieving positive marks on key metrics such as accuracy, credibility, transparency, voter satisfaction, and number of electoral protests filed.

According to the paper authored by political scientists Ador R. Torneo and Topin S. Ruiz, the accuracy of the polls was verified by the results of the random manual audit (RMA) which reached a “record-high” of 99.99% in 2019, which is up from 99.90 % in 2016, 99.7% in 2013, and 99.6% in 2010.

The uptrend in the RMA results seems to be inversely correlated with the downtrend in the number of protest cases being filed. According to the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET), the body tasked to decide on protests filed for congressional posts, there were 49 cases filed in 2010, 37 in 2013, 28 in 2016, and 21 in 2019. None of these cases have resulted in reversals.

Other election protests filed before the country’s Commission on Elections (Comelec) is also decreasing.  Data from the poll body shows that 49 cases were filed in 2010, 32 cases in 2013, and 22 in 2010.

Credibility was measured in the study in terms of public perception, saying that “the people’s opinions and trust of the system and the election results are an indicator of credibility.”

“In Pulse Asia’s survey, 89% of Filipinos prefer the automated system, a comparable yet increasing trend since the first automated elections in 2010,” the paper said.

Transparency was also a hallmark of the 2019 polls,  as the study found the electorate to have had access to processes and information.

“For the 2019 mid-term elections, COMELEC (Commission on Elections) provided at least four means for the public to gain a good understanding of the how the system works. These included mock elections, source code review, public ballot printing system, and the results website.”

Voter confidence and satisfaction for the 2019 mid-terms elections was also notable, the paper said, with 83% of Filipinos were satisfied with the conduct of the elections.

“This is relatively consistent with all other elections under the AES. People’s opinions surveys resulted in 84% believing that the election results in 2019 were credible. This is a significant jump from 74% in 2016,” the paper said.

The full paper can be downloaded here.