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Voter receipts to lessen chances for poll cheating - watchdog.

Byline: Jerome Aning

Electronic cheating will be more difficult this coming May 9 polls following the Supreme Court's unanimous vote affirming its order to the Commission on Elections to restore the voter's verification paper auditor trail (VVPAT) in the vote-count machines, according to a former lawmaker who is now a leader of an election watchdog group.

Former congressman Glenn Chong, convener of the Consortium for Clean and Credible Elections and a member of the Automated Election Systems Watch, said that through vote receipts, it would be easy for voters to see with their own eyes who were benefiting from electronic cheating.

To a very big extent, election 'operators' and politicians will be afraid to cheat, because candidates who will get an extra vote or who will get a vote that was not cast in their favor will be revealed in the receipt, Chong told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in a phone interview.

The lawyer said the receipts could also be used to back up the random manual audit for selected precincts that would be conducted to verify the accuracy of the results.

He criticized Comelec Chair Andres Bautista for earlier saying that the poll body could no longer promise credible elections with the printing of the voter receipt.

His reasoning is totally disconnected and discordant. The VVPAT was mandated by law as a security provision precisely to promote voter trust in the system by making it transparent. It is the transparency of the system that gives credibility to the results of the elections, Chong said.

The lawyer said that keeping automated voting and counting processes more transparent would also boost confidence on the results of the voting and lessen the chances of political instability occurring.

Usually our presidents are elected by a plurality, not majority of votes. If we have a president who won only 30 percent of the votes and the elections are mired by strong suspicions of rigging, the likelihood for the other 70 percent of the voters to rise up upon the slightest agitation is far more realistic than the baseless dire implications painted by the Comelec where the voter receipts are printed, he said.

Chong said losing candidates would have no more reason to complain, or justification to provoke their supporters to cry foul because the system would be transparent and the voters themselves would be satisfied with the results. Electoral protests can also be avoided when defeat is clear or the victory of the presumptive winner is credibly established, according to Chong.

Only the voter receipt will effectively deliver the transparency mechanism that will shore up the confidence of the voters in the automated system and effectively diffuse any possible tensions post-election, he added.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Mar 21, 2016
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