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Voters or automated polls: Are they ready?

Erika Adrienne Lopez Barely three months away, the 2013 second automated elections will be held, to be exact, on May 13, 2013. Political Parties are now busy thinking about how to win the voters attention. The Filipino voters, on the other hand are also looking forward to see if the future politicians could bring change into our Government. But the question remains are we ready for the second automated polls? Majority of the voters might not be aware about the technological controversies regarding the PCOS machines. Commission on Elections Chair Sixto Brillantes proudly pronounced that last years first automated election made the cut, but the Kontra Daya and the Center for People Empowerment in Governance complained that Comelec has not learned its lessons yet, and is not ready for the 2013 elections. Some of the glitches seen in the mock polls that were conducted in 20 voting centers, in 10 areas nationwide are: the delay in starting the machines; defects in electronic transmissions; problems in inputting pin codes; and the failure of some PCOS machines to read ballots. Aside from this technological issue, accuracy is also a critical question. On July 24-25, 2012, Smartmatic conducted a mock election at the House of Representatives and discovered a 2.6-percent discrepancy or 97.7 percent accuracy rating against the required 99.995 percent. This means that there is a high rejection rate of ballots at 4 percent or 557 errors in 20,000 ballot marks. Voters are only knowledgeable on about the basic steps of ballot casting. How it works, what the verifiability screen should look like when the votes are scanned, and a lot about the machine have left us wondering. Major IT groups have raised their questions and demands regarding the controversy, yet some of the issues are still left unresolved. According to Brillantes, if our people will not accept the PCOS automated system, the Comelec would have to revert to manual election. He stated, If they want to replace the PCOS, we should go back to manual because we have no more time to conduct a new public bidding to procure another automated election system. With these glitches and uncertainties stated, the guarantee of a successful election remains vague. It is too late for the Comelec to assess the vulnerabilities of PCOS system. In reality, the use of technology in holding the elections is just another bonus. What is essential is that the voters are aware of what they should do, and who they should really vote. Not just because of good charm, and a flowery speech, or a 500 bill in exchange for a vote. Voters are lacking is the inability to analyze things and collecting facts. Running a background check, asking for records about the good and bad things they have contributed for the country is one of the sufficient way to ensure that our votes will be of good votes. We are the ones who are accountable for whoever sits in the position. Pointing fingers to them when something goes wrong is somehow illogical. On the election day, the power is given to us, so we should be responsible enough in choosing the people who will lead our nation.