Computers counting the ballots?
So much has been said about the computerization of the coming elections in 2010, if there is going to be one, of course. Honesty does not seem to be one of our president's virtues. She has lied to us many times before.
Granting that there shall be one, so much has happened, most of which were speculations, since we began thinking about computerizing this very controversial democratic exercise.
Perhaps the main reason why we are adamant in adopting this kind of technology, in spite of its tremendous cost to the taxpayer, into our system is, we are running out of ideas on how to conduct an honest and fair election. From the time Marcos got re-elected sometime in the 1960’s, at least to my mind as that was my first election related experience (I was in grade school at the time), the phrase “whoever has the guns, goons and gold" (not necessarily in that order) wins the election. Since then, losers have cried "foul" and "rampant cheating" like an "amen" to close a prayer. Sadly, we have learned to accept this as part of the elections.
Is computerization the answer to our woes come election time? While I hate to be a doomsayer, I doubt it for the following reasons:
1. The players have not changed! We will have to travel a long, arduous road to change these politicians ways. Losers will still cry they have been cheated. Never mind the evidences. They will do so just the same. They will find enough reasons just to justify having lost in their bid to power and fame. And maybe rightfully so. What with all the money they have spent on their campaign. There should be at least an ROI, if not in office, at least a justification for losing face. So, the journey is until kingdom come.
2. Corollary to number 1, we are only minimizing cheating in the counting, not the entire elections per se. Remember that this activity starts with the campaign period until a candidate has been declared a winner. Just right now, while the campaign period has not even started, we see the moneyed politicians unabashedly using the media to glorify themselves. We see the names of government officials glaring in our face with projects they have undertaken. Never mind that they were obligated to serve. Never mind that it was our money that was used for the same.
3. Vote buying can still happen. In a country where there is hunger and despair, where there are people who are living in dire straits, selling their votes is easy money and will solve their problem at least for the day.
4. How will the system correct flying voters, or fictitious voters whose names were taken from tombstones? We have seen it before. People long dead voting. Have we shouted hallellujah, it's a miracle? Never. We simply shrugged our shoulders and maybe winced in pain.
5. How certain are we that these machines cannot be manipulated? These are man-made and even the highest type of program can be hacked. I remember the snap elections when the computer operators marched out of the PICC because they were being forced to cheat. If that happened before, it can happen again. At any rate, it just proves that computerization is no guarantee that it will eradicate cheating.
A democracy like ours is based on the freedom of its citizenry to choose its leaders. It is unfortunate that this exercise has been abused much to the detriment of the people. But still, let us keep our fingers crossed that our money is being spent on something that is useful for us. After all, we have already suffered for too long. Surely, there is no other direction left but forward. But how long can we wait? We deserve a break!