Quote for the Week..

"Why are the country’s political leaders quick to act on amending the Constitution to change nationalistic provisions for the benefit of foreigners or to extend their terms of office but are allergic to amending the Constitution to address the people’s aspirations for self-determination?" - Marvic Leonen,Dean of the UP College of Law, in a keynote address delivered at the 1st International Solidarity Conference on Mindanao; March 16-18, 2009 in Davao City, Philippines.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

ARMM voters can learn system in 3 mos. – Comelec

The Commission on Elections said three months of intensive education would be “substantial compliance” with the requirement in the election automation law that voters must be versed on poll automation in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez told reporters the technologies to be used in the Aug. 11 polls—the Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) and Optical Mark Reader (OMR) systems—were “complex but not alien.”

Like using ATM or betting on lotto

He described the DRE system as akin to using a bank automated teller machine (ATM), and compared the OMR to betting on a lotto game or taking government standardized testing.
“They [the voters] do not have to be taught the binary codes and other parts of the system. They only need to be taught how to use the system,” he said.

Jimenez pointed out that if the technical requirements of the election automation law were strictly adhered to, the preparations for the ARMM polls would not be completed until 2010. The law requires a six-month period to educate the voters.


He admitted, however, there could be complications in Maguindanao province, which will be using the DRE system, because the technology is something new to the people of the province.“But I am sure they have seen an ATM so it might not be too difficult to educate them on the technology,” he said.

As for the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Shariff Kabunsuan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi—which will use the OMR—Jimenez said voters in those provinces should be familiar with the technology. “They have taken government standardized tests before and for those of the older set, I am sure they have placed bets on the lotto draws,” he said. Touch-screen technology

The DRE utilizes touch-screen technology, while in the OMR system, voters are given ballots that list the candidates, beside whose names a space is provided which the voter may shade. The ballots are then brought to canvassing centers where specially designed counting machines will tally the votes.

Jimenez said the election body was doing fine without the “legal cover” that the joint congressional committee on elections had promised but which it had not so far delivered. The committee said it would waive the procurement law’s coverage of the bidding for the supply of automation machines.

“We were able to execute the process. We think we are okay without the legal cover,” said Jimenez. Failed biddings

He explained that in the case of the two failed biddings for the OMR, the election automation law allows the Comelec to enter into a negotiated contract, which it did. There was one failed bidding for the DRE, but the Comelec granted the bidder’s motion for reconsideration.

Jimenez said the Comelec will meet with officials of the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police to iron out the security preparations for the elections, including how many men would be needed to secure the ARMM before, during and after the polls. He said the poll body might seek the deployment of the military to address “general disturbances” in the region. (Jeannette Andrade, INQ.net)

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