writing, contest piece, college

Poll automation: Is the Philippines ready?

Since the birth of the Internet, more and more people have found it easier to use the computer in accessing a vast amount of information available. After years of development, it has become the easiest and most effective form of communication available to almost anyone. To keep up with the fast pace dictated by computer technology, more nations like the United States of America have turned to the convenience of the online world and applied its advantages to something that affects their entire country—voting for their government leaders through poll automation.

The Philippines is not one to allow itself to be left behind—our capability to keep up with technology is apparent in the multitudes of gadgets we own that we update almost as fast as electronics companies make them. However, considering our government’s notorious reputation marred by graft and corruption, is this proficiency sufficient to prove that we are mature enough to handle something as serious as poll automation in the upcoming 2010 elections?

To take as an example, in most schools like La Salle, we have the luxury of machines that accept polls with slates blackened to symbolize choice (remember your multiple-tests and the evaluation questionnaires you are required to answer every term?). In the US, they use a similar method in tabulating votes during elections, and based on results, this process yields a more accurate response. Computers now have touch-screen monitors with the ability to record fingerprints—an incredibly efficient way of detecting flying voters and tamper-proofing the ballot counts.

The fact that we have comparable systems only proves that we have the necessary skills to use our available resources and make our voting process more effective and efficient at the same time. However, our path to progress is stunted time and time again by the corruption of the people in office. Despite our government having the budget for automated polls and computer education, somewhere down the hierarchy all the money disappears, and we have no choice but to depend on the not-so-accurate and not-always-honest poll watchers and counters to help decide which of the candidates are put into office.

A computer-automated 2010 elections may seem like a very promising option for our country. It may help lessen (if not completely eliminate) the number of repeat voters and may increase the accuracy of the vote count. But if the people responsible for putting this technology into action are still stuck in their old habits, Filipino voters and poll watchers alike seem to have no other choice but to be stuck just like them.

(Winner, 1st Place, Campus Journalism Awards 2009 under the Editorial Writing - English category)