Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Milestone In Phlippine History

Probably the best way to describe this week's  elections in the Philippines and the country's first experience in electronic voting is to quote Charles Dickens: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times".

It was the best of times in that despite glitches with some of the machines, voters for the most part were able to complete and register their ballots. At this writing about 90% of these ballots have been relayed, and counted and a winner of the presidential race declared.  What a difference between this and previous elections under the manual system  when it took days or even weeks to tally the results. Automation also prevented  such forms as cheating that were common in bygone days as stuffed, lost, and stolen ballot boxes. It also reduced the incidence of "flying voters", i.e. those who submit ballots at multiple precincts.    

It was the worst of time in that Comelec (Commission on Elections) when redirecting the precincts into fewer polling centers failed to plan and coordinate for such a large turnout of voters, many of whom waited in long queues under  a wilting tropical sun to cast their ballots.  One candidate--and winner in the  presidential race-- Benigno Aquino III stood in line for four hours to cast his vote.  Congratulations on  his victory and hats off to him for not insisting on special treatment while voting as did most other candidates..

And hats off to the Philippine people for their tenacity and determination to vote, despite  doubts by many skeptics, myself included, against a successful election.  It was really touch and go almost up to the last minute as to whether the machines would function properly.  And then there was the attendant violence in some locales that always accompany elections in the Philippines. That's something that even computerized elections can't prevent.  Nevertheless, the success of this election may be an incentive to institute further reforms in the electoral  process and in the government itself.

For further details and reflections about this historical event, please see these two great articles, "Philippine Election Update:  Results Reported in Record Time, Largely Peaceful, Now What?" and "Philippine Election Results Updated: May 13, 2010".


Alan Perlman said...

Another glimpse at life in the 3rd world. Amid all the backwardness, there does seem to be an impulse towards democracy.

This makes me really appreciate what we have here in the USA. But it was 700 years from the Magna Carta to the Constitution/Bill of Rights, which we have trouble maintaining.

Secular Guy said...

Actually, much of the form and structure of the Philippines government is based on the American Model (co-equal executive, legislative, and judicial branches, the President as commander-in-chief of the military, etc.)

But it's the substance of Philippine society that needs a radical overhaul. (Relatively) clean elections are part of that process One can only hope that Aquino can keep the momentum going in this area.