Thursday, March 5, 2009

Keep it up?

The wonders of technology!

I have witnessed its potential in transforming our electoral culture as early as 2003 when Ateneo de Naga University run several demonstrations of the software “Botong Pinoy”, a fully-automated voting system developed by Mega Computers.

You register as a voter by being physically present and having your identity determined through biometrics, characteristics which are spectacularly unique to each individual. This will include fingerprint, retina of the eyes, etc. This process is supposed to purge the voters list of “flying voters” intentionally doing multiple registration in several localities, and even those who pose as someone else registering several times under different identities.

In the election day itself, wonders of the touch screen technology with the voter simply touching the colored picture of the candidate he/she is voting for. And at the end of the voting process, he/she just confirms the choices entered and receives a print out similar to those issued by ATM machines, confirming the accuracy of the votes noted by the machine.

Most important, the vote you cast immediately gets counted and it takes less than a day to count total votes and determine the winners!
How excited I was then of the transformation it will cause the country’s electoral process!

But after two national elections and the 2010 elections drawing nearer, I am growing to be a lot more wary of the government’s ability and sincerity in pursuing modernization of our elections!

First, it(the national government) had chosen to invest millions of pesos in the purchase of counting machines which ended up rusting in some warehouse.

Second, it has refused to fast track the modernization law then, taking it up only when the 2007 election day was a stone’s throw away.

Third, it has failed to initiate the computerization process early enough and thus ended up panicking over such pursuit before the 2010 elections. I wonder if the COMELEC will have the ability and time needed to bid out, purchase, install the computer network nationwide, and train its personnel nationwide for the computerized elections.

But let us keep our fingers crossed.

If it doesn’t happen, we have always been known for being a patient and tolerant people anyway. Much as we may desire to push the government to work harder and faster, it seems we cannot! Much as we may desire to shame those who scheme to get elected into position, it seems we cannot! Worse, much as we may desire to act together and work for the common good, it seems we cannot!

But even if we cannot, its a wonder we still keep our fingers crossed...

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