THE COMMISSION on Elections (Comelec) should have an administrative revamp to cut technical mishaps in future elections, political analysts said at the weekend.
“Comelec has been steadily incompetent and would be ripe for an administrative overhaul,” Gerardo V. Eusebio, a political science professor at De La Salle University, said in a Facebook Messenger chat. “It has always been marked by suspicions of anomalies and such but has remained standing with legs wobbling.”
Election watchdog Kontra Daya said last week incidents of malfunctioning vote-counting machines on May 9 could cast doubt on the accuracy of election results.
The watchdog’s election observers reported almost 600 machine failures that caused long queues and delayed voting on election day.
“There should be an IT department within Comelec that’s made up of competent and qualified personnel,” Dennis C. Corronacion, who heads the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Political Science Department, said in a Viber message.
Kontra Daya said the election body should replace the automated election system with one that is more transparent and locally made to allow public scrutiny.
Election Commissioner George Erwin M. Garcia told reporters in a Viber message last week 1,867 machines encountered “common issues” that were promptly resolved.
He said these issues included paper jams, rejected ballots and machines not printing returns properly.
Comelec replaced more than 900 defective vote-counting machines, while 469 SD cards were regenerated on election day, it said last Tuesday.
Mr. Coronacion noted that the machines used in last week’s elections are outdated and were the same ones used in the 2010 elections.
“If we’re going to count the number of years and the number of elections that we have had using the automated election system, these glitches, which resulted in the disenfranchisement of a significant number of voters, speaks a lot about the incompetence of Comelec as well as their ignorance about computer technology,” he said.
Election Commissioner Marlon S. Casquejo last week said Comelec would replace the vote-counting machines before the 2025 mid-term elections.
He noted that the election body is aware of the dwindling lifespan of the vote-counting machines that led to the technical blunders.
Comelec should also find more credible contractors than their current partner, Smartmatic SGO, and logistics partner F2 Logistics, Marlon M. Villarin, who also teaches political science at UST, said in a Viber message.
The private contractor last month was accused of negligence after a data breach was reported when a former Smartmatic employee downloaded potentially sensitive information from a company laptop.
“Comelec has yet to announce the extent of the damage done by these glitches,” Mr. Coronacion said. “If the number of the disenfranchised Filipinos reach millions, it’s going to cast a doubt on the integrity of our electoral process as well as the legitimacy of the candidates who were recently proclaimed as winners.” — John Victor D. Ordoñez