In hopes of dodging e-poll disaster

In hopes of dodging e-poll disaster

Summary: In the 2005 movie "Chicken Little", the main character was sternly ridiculed for unwittingly causing panic by proclaiming to his town-mates that the "sky was falling". While it turned out that there was indeed some basis for his warning, the end of the world didn't happen as he had initially feared.

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In the 2005 movie "Chicken Little", the main character was sternly ridiculed for unwittingly causing panic by proclaiming to his town-mates that the "sky was falling". While it turned out that there was indeed some basis for his warning, the end of the world didn't happen as he had initially feared.

I'm expecting the same scenario to for the Philippines even as the hysteria surrounding the implementation of the country's automated elections reached a new high on Tuesday.

Triggering the alarm was news that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and poll contractor Smartmatic had decided to pull out and reprogram all of the 76,000 CF memory cards because they failed to read the results of the ballots fed into the PCOS (precinct count optical scan) machines.

While the glitch can still be fixed, as claimed by the Comelec and Smartmatic, many are worried there might not be enough time before the elections on May 10.

It looks quite impossible to solve this problem with barely a few days left the voting starts when it took two months to program the CF cards. What about those that were transported over rivers and mountains? Is there still time to get them back and deploy them again before Monday's polls?

As a result, a number of proposals have cropped up, ranging from postponement of the elections to going back to manual voting and counting.

We know that the entire bureaucracy will not collapse and the country will not sink to the bottom of the ocean if there's a failure at the elections. Nonetheless, the Filipino people have put their fate on the country's first automated polls. After all, the government had allotted 8 billion pesos (US$179.7 million)--the biggest election automation contract in the world--for the electoral exercise. But, alas, this undertaking is now projected to end up as a monumental flop.

I hope I'm wrong, though. As I've written in my previous post, there's nothing to be gained in wanting the elections to fail. The automated poll is still our best bet. (Just a note: The only good thing that has come out of this mess is that more people now know, or at least aware of, what a CF card is or looks like.)

Topics: Government Asia, E-Commerce, Government, Philippines

Melvin G. Calimag

About Melvin G. Calimag

Melvin G. Calimag is currently the executive editor of an IT news website in the Philippines. Melvin has been covering the local IT beat for the last 13 years. He is currently a board member at the IT Journalists Association of the Philippines (CyberPress), and also serves as a charter member with the Philippine Science Journalists Association.

Joel D. Pinaroc

About Joel D. Pinaroc

Joel has been a media practitioner since 1996, starting off as a reporter and eventually becoming editor of a pioneering IT trade newspaper in Manila. He is currently one of the content producers of a Manila-based developmental website.

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