The Philippines held elections on Monday seen as crucial for President Benigno Aquino’s bold reform agenda, as deadly violence and graft-tainted candidates underlined the nation’s deep-rooted problems. Glitches marred the start of voting when at least 100 machines malfunctioned in various polling precincts throughout the country including Metro Manila, the Philippines chief election officer reported. But lawyer Sixto Brilliantes, the chairman of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), insisted the glitches had no major adverse impact on the political exercise as to declare a “failure of elections.” Brilliantes explained they projected that a maximum of 200 voting equipment, known as the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines, would malfunction or would not start when polling precincts opened their doors to about 52 million qualified Filipinos at 7am on Monday.
Articles about voting issues in Asia, Australia and Oceania.
Malfunctioning precinct count optical scanners (PCOS) yesterday compounded the usual concerns of missing voter names, ballot switching, vote buying and violent incidents on election day. Officials of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), however, agreed that the conduct of elections in the Visayas yesterday was generally peaceful. In Western Visayas, PCOS machines in some precincts in at least 10 areas in Negros Occidental malfunctioned and delayed the voting process, said provincial elections supervisor Wil Arceño. In precincts where the machines were inoperable, the Board of Election Inspectors kept the ballots in a secured envelope to be counted by another machine. Affected were the towns of Pulupandan, Manapla, Ilog, Isabela, and La Castellana as well as the cities of Kabankalan, Cadiz, Silay, Bago and Bacolod. The machines either had defective memory cards or LCD (liquid crystal display) screens. Some did not accept the ballots and others overheated, said Mr. Arceño.
The review of the “source code” that will be used for the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines began at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Manila on Thursday. The source code refers to the readable computer program that will be used on the 82,000 PCOS machines for scanning ballots on Election Day. Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said the review would ensure the credibility of next Monday’s midterm elections. But senatorial candidate Richard Gordon, who has asked the Supreme Court to stop the elections on a question of the “honesty” of the source code, said that with only four days before the balloting, political parties do not have enough time to examine the source code.
The Election Commission (EC) has clarified that besides the standard ‘X’, check marks and dots are also acceptable on ballot papers. EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said any mark is acceptable as long as it was made within a candidate’s column. “Words are not acceptable, but a dot, tick or any other mark that can be constituted as having the intention of choosing a candidate is valid,” he told Bernama here. “In our guideline, we stated that any mark is accepted and not just an X providing it is not made in all columns,” he said on the 332,297 spoiled ballots in the 13th general election last Sunday compared to 324,120 in 2008.
Though it’s been tested on a small scale in local elections, many commentators believe it’s too soon to implement e-voting nationwide in Indonesia’s 2014 election. The technology has been tested in local elections in Pandeglang, Banten, West Java; the Jembrana Regency of Bali; and the Bantaeng Regency in South Sulawesi – but the experience was mixed, according to politicians and academicians. Idrus Paturusi, rector at Hassanuddin University in Makassar, praised what he said was efficiency and accuracy of e-voting tested at selected polling stations during an April 17th election in South Sulawesi, according to a recent opinion piece in The Jakarta Post. Another positive review came from Muhammad Alhamid, chairman of the Election Supervisory Committee (Bawaslu), who said e-voting could save money and eliminate potential violations during ballot counting. But scepticism about relying on the system nationwide next year is widespread.
At least 50,000 Malaysian opposition supporters rallied at a stadium Wednesday to protest what they say are fraud-marred election results that enabled the long-ruling coalition to cling to power. Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s three-party alliance believes the National Front coalition used illegal voters, bogus ballots and other irregularities in May 5 national polls to extend its 56 years of rule. Prime Minister Najib Razak has rejected the accusations and maintained that the elections were free and fair.
Malaysians cast their ballots in the most important election in the nation’s history on Sunday. On Election Day, as had been predicted by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, reports of electoral fraud were widespread. Although the Prime Minister Najib Razak had just a few days earlier given his categorical assurance that the election would be clean, a mountain of evidence started piling up to negate his assertion. It was discovered that despite years of pressuring the Malaysian Election Commission (EC) to ensure a free, fair and unbiased election the EC continued to demonstrate its incompetence and lack of professionalism. Furthermore, evidence has emerged that websites in Malaysia are being selectively and deliberately blocked to prevent the free flow of independent information.
Two people died, including the husband of a Central Philippines mayoralty candidate last as violence stepped up days before Filipinos take to the polls for the mid-term elections. A report reaching Manila said Jun Apura and his companion identified only as Espaldon were ambushed by heavily armed men in the village of Anabo in Lemery, Iloilo, mortally wounding the two who later died at a local hospital. Jun Apura is the husband of Mayor Ligaya Apura who is seeking reelection.
Voters may soon be able to trail their ballot and confirm whether their vote on the Electronic Voting Machine has gone in favour of the candidate they chose. The trail will involve issuance of a printed slip for voter confirmation and will become a reality once the newly proposed Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system is introduced by the Election Commission. The system comes in the wake of apprehensions expressed by political parties especially the BJP in respect of fairness of EVMs. The EC, which told the Supreme Court last week that it had recently approved the VVPAT design and sought its further fine tuning to ensure zero error, has invited the representatives of various political parties on 10 May to discuss the new system.
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has urged supporters to stage a protest after Malaysia’s ruling coalition won polls he said were marred by fraud. His call came as PM Najib Razak was sworn into office after his Barisan Nasional (BN, National Front) coalition won 133 of the 222 parliamentary seats. Mr Anwar’s three-party alliance secured 89 seats on Sunday in the country’s closest polls since independence. The BN has been in power in Malaysia for more than half a century. The polls saw an 80% voter turnout, amid strong campaigning from both sides.