Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Automated Election, Not Automatic

Technicians who don't know what they are doing, limited modems, modems that can't transmit, insufficient thermal paper, irregularities in transporting the machines. These things actually happened in so-called Summer Capital of the Philippines during the May 10, 2010 election.

I thought it was only one technician who doesn't know what he's doing.Reports are coming in that a lot of the IT technicians are not really prepared for worst case scenarios. The technician I saw spent most of his time reading the manual to correct a problem of jamming. In the end, the only solution was to transmit the results first before they can continue to print the turn outs. However there is only one modem in each cluster of precinct so they will have to wait for the others to finish transmitting.

So we waited.... and waited.... and waited... coz the other machine just experienced the same problem and they will have to finish transmitting first before the modem can be taken to the other side. So the lone technician went back to reading the manual instead of going to the other side to help them out finish the transmission and get the modem when it's done. They were done already for like 30 minutes or so. But the technician is not coming to get the modem. I asked one of the teachers if she is allowed to bring it over. It is and she brought it over to the other side.

After about an hour or so, the technician went back to our side and asked us if we can open the machine and put the cf card there coz the other machine can't transmit. Everyone of the watchers refused so he went back again to the other side. It turned out, it was the simm that can't transmit coz it was successful when he changed it into a different network.

While these are happening, the thermal papers run out and they have to order more from comelec. It made me wonder that if COMELEC was really prepared, should they have been able to compute the amount of papers needed to print the 30 sets of election returns? Some precincts were still working until 3 in the morning because of similar problems. The automation is not really automatic.

When the counting is done, the CF cards should have been transported separately with the machine and should have been accompanied by the watchers. Some of the machines were transported with the CF cards intact in a car-for-rent of a politician and no watchers were allowed to go with it. Transportation provided by COMELEC is not even enough. It seems they are not as prepared as they claimed.

So why did they insist for Automated election when it's obvious that they were not prepared? But maybe this ought to happen so that we will learn to change. Perhaps today is not the change we are looking for but just a preparation so that we can be ready when the real change comes.

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