Reports on the Philippines’ first nationwide e-vote

From the Ecological Options Network (EON):

Hi All,

As you may know, we are in the Philippines working as ’embedded video journalists’ with teams
of the Compact for Peaceful and Democratic Election International Observer Mission (Compact-IOM) – an excellent and well organized project in its 3rd election that could well be emulated in the US. We continue to be inspired by our election integrity activist friends here!

Since we arrived last week we have been racing around in an intense and exhausting schedule in some of the hottest weather on record. MB has been working with the IOM team in the Metro Manila Pasig area comprising one of the greatest contrasts between extreme wealth and extreme poverty. Jim has been with the IOM team in the Provence of Pampanga, a hotspot (in more ways than one) of patronage, dynastic politics.

We apologize to those who have been expecting immediate video posts as we did from Copenhagen. Sorry. The schedule has been too non-stop to allow for processing the more than 30 hours of material shot so far.

This has been the country’s first ‘automated’ nation-wide election using paper ballots counted with optical scanners. As one editorial wag put it, the usual 3 G’s of Pinoy politics – Gold, Goons and Guns – have had a 4th G added: Glitches. Nevertheless, despite many last minute technical and logistical screw-ups, predicted dire dark scenarios, and long waits for voters in extreme heat, the election has been conducted with fewer deaths and less violence than the last election we covered
in 2007. This election year so far recorded 68 casualties, including 27 killed. For the same period
in 2007, the casualty cases reached 232.

There will be a partial hand count of supposedly randomly selected precincts, far less than the total manual recount demanded by some parties or required for full credibility. The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) and its ‘service provider’ Smartmatic-TIM are claiming a great success and
a vindication for ‘automated’ elections.

In one of the many quirks of the current Philippine system, outgoing President Gloria Arroyo, who
is widely believed to have stolen at least one previous election in 2004, has executed a lateral pirouette and been elected a Member of the House of Representatives from Pampanga’s 2nd district in a move she hopes will protect her from criminal prosecution. Some doubt the ploy will work. Our friend and Advisory Board Member Walden Bello and his progressive Akbayan Citizens’ Action Party have gained ground.

Ed Panlillio, a priest-turned-reform candidate, who was elected governor of Pampanga province in 2007, has lost to the wife of an alleged local ‘gambling lord’ in a contest heavily tainted by vote buying and a ‘climate of fear’ as reported by many of our interviewees.

The country is hoping for a peaceful transfer of power to the frontrunner NoyNoy Aquino.

MB returns to the US on Thursday, Jim will return next Wednesday. We’ll post video reports ASAP when we’re back. Meanwhile, below are two interesting updates. More to come.

Fast count stuns nation
Faster than you can say ‘Garci’
By Kristine L. Alave, Cathy C. Yamsuan, Tarra Quismundo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Posted date: May 12, 2010

Philippines’ Aquino vows new era of clean rule

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