By CHERYLL D. FIEL
DAVAO CITY – The democratic election principle says voting must be kept secret while the counting must be made open and transparent. But with the way things went in the recently-concluded May 10 elections, things happened the other way around. At the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) session hall where the laptop terminal that gathered election results from various precincts in the city was placed, the widescreen projected the tabulation.
But if the laptop operator made the wrong entry or added the votes, no one would really know. There was no way of verifying the results because the Consolidation and Canvassing System (CCS) laptop, which computed results at the snap of a finger, only showed the sum total of votes but not the figures entered via electronic transmission from the polling precincts.
Oscar Breva, one of the lawyers watching for the Aquino-Roxas camp during the canvassing of votes, said a lot of things were invisible to the eyes in the new way of counting votes.
He said election watchers hardly had anything tangible to challenge whatever figures the counting machine churned out.
Breva said the administrators of the canvassing process, the City Board of Canvassers (CBOC), composed of a Commission on Elections (Comelec) officer and two others, could not show the actual tabulation in full view of the public.
What was shown on the widescreen was not a faithful projection of whatever goes into the CCS laptop. As Breva explained it, the monitor projected what was only captured by a video camera focused on certain portions of the CCS laptop screen.
Each of the ERs received in the CCS laptop were also not shown to the public early on in the canvassing.
The board of canvassers only showed the figures to the public upon their insistence, Breva said. By then, about 79 percent of the votes had already been electronically transmitted from the precincts to the CCS laptop at the SP session hall.
He said it was a good thing that they got hold of copies of the printed ERs so they were able to verify the electronically transmitted ERs later.
“But we only got to verify the figures only after the fact, so to speak, and not in real time,” Breva said.
What Breva said only goes to show that unless a poll watcher is equipped with the document to verify the results, to alert and to call the attention of the city board of canvassers for a review and comparison at a spotting of an error, chances are, mistakes in every way of the tabulation process could not be corrected at once.
The CCS laptop that was stationed at the SP session hall received and tabulated the electronically transmitted results from the city’s 1,172 clustered precincts. Each clustered precinct has approximately close to a thousand votes if the turnout of voters is 100 percent in each precinct.