The Commission on Elections has informed the House of Representatives that it was rejecting a proposal for hybrid voting, which involves manual balloting and partial automation, after a test run showed its dismal results.
Comelec chairman Andres Bautista told the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms led by Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro that the commission would instead push through with fully automated elections in 2016.
Bautista, along with Castro and other members of the House suffrage committee, witnessed a mock manual-partially automated balloting last June 27 in Bacoor, Cavite, which exposed the hybrid system as an unreliable and slow method of tallying votes.
It took two hours just to count 25 ballots and only votes for president, vice president and senators were counted during the mock balloting. The other votes that needed to be canvassed after two hours were more than those that had been tallied.
Comelec Commissioner Robert Christian Lim said during a hearing conducted by the Castro committee that the hybrid system was discarded “because it will cost more, it will require an amendment of existing election laws or enactment of new ones, and it is time consuming, taxing and prone to human error and other irregularities.”
Castro, a member of the National Unity Party, welcomed the Comelec’s decision. “I share the findings, observations and the decision made by the Comelec,” he said.
The Comelec is now left with two options to ensure the conduct of automated elections next year: 1) the refurbishment of the 80,000 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines and the lease of an additional 23,000 units, or 2) the lease of all counting/voting machines.
According to the Comelec, a hybrid system would cost “between P36.8 billion and P39.7 billion,” while only P20.5 billion would be spent for a fully automated process .
Transmission under the hybrid system was through short messaging service or text through mobile phones, which is unreliable and prone to hacking and tampering.