The Unsynchronized “SYNCHRONIZED ELECTIONS” and Selective Automation


UST is now in the process of transition from the manual balloting system to the automated voting system for the CSC and LSC elections. If the information relayed to me is correct, the university will have 10 colleges, faculties, institutes, and schools who shall do automated voting this year, while the rest stays with the manual balloting system. Also, this year’s elections were “AUTOMATED” pursuant to the provisions of the Students’ Election Code of 2007 (SEC) and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (SEC-IRR).

But this year seemed to redefine the meaning of SYNCHRONIZED & AUTOMATED.

This year, synchornized meant that some colleges shall vote ahead, some colleges with vote as scheduled, and some colleges’ schedules are erratically spread along the campaign period. I see this much similar to the election schedule in the US Presidential primaries, where candidates and election days are parallel to each other.

The SEC provides the liberty to the local COMELEC to deviate from the synchronized schedule if the valid qualifications are met. But the SEC failed to provide specific qualifications. The SEC also does not provide clear-cut provisions on the procedural requirements of changing election dates.

Synchronized means ALL AT THE SAME TIME. If it is not done at the same time, then it is not synchronized. And this election DEFINITELY is not SYNCHRONIZED. Not only are we redefining a term, we are making the Thomasians stupid.

Certainly, there have been mishaps in the planning of the 2008 CSC Elections. And I can personally attest to this claim (mukhang magkakakaso nanaman ako!). There were several times when my former party had undue delays because of lack of COMELEC representatives. But COMELEC cannot be blamed because they are students as well.

IMPLICATIONS

There were two main problems that rose during the 2008 CSC and LSC elections, namely:

1. That supposedly “SYNCHRONIZED” elections were not synchronized;

2. That electronic balloting was a selective procedure

FIRST POINT: THE IMPLICATIONS OF AN “UNSYNCHRONIZED” SYNCHRONIZED ELECTION

Perhaps the framers of the SEC nor the COMELEC do not fully grasp the wisdom of a synchronized election. Politically, elections are done in synchrony so that no particular component of the electorate may influence the general outcome of an election. Through a synchronized election, no candidate shall have the benefit of momentum by showing a win in a particular segment of the electorate. Practically, dealing with elections one time big time does not entail as much resources as doing it segment per segment. The separate elections held may have cost the COMELEC resources more than if it had done it altogether.

COMELEC said that the synchronized elections were not synchronized because of the various local activities in the colleges, in which they cannot hold campaigns or elections. If this was the issue, and if I was the COMELEC, then I would not have rushed into getting into election preparations, and would set it aside at a season where there will be no overlapping activities. There will be no problem with this setup because the term of office of all CSC and LSC officers are until April 1.

The unsynchronized elections also may cause an unnecessary agenda setting to the electorate. COMELEC did not release the results of elections done earlier until its election returns were canvassed at Tan Yan Kee days or even weeks after. This methodology spurs speculations on who have won the elections of a college that voted earlier, and may affect the outcome of colleges who will vote later. While this is a part of politics, this must be avoided since it compromises the full exercise of the voters’ judgment.

Also, the unsynchronized elections may lead to cheating. A secondary wisdom of synchronized election is to make sure that the tally and canvass of votes are done at a contiguous time frame so as not to have time for fraud of cheating. Though I believe that the COMELEC will not cheat (at least this batch), we should still not give them a chance to do so. This diminishes the credibility of the results of elections held ahead of behind schedule.

With the implications stated, the credibility of the electoral process as a whole is compromised, and the winners of the elections’ credibility of mandate shall be questioned.

ON ELECTRONIC VOTING

Electronic voting is done to ensure the expediency of the electoral process. However, if the electorate is not educated of the procedure, it may spur apathy on the part of the electorate and incredibility of the results it shall so provide.

This year, 10 colleges are going automated. And the COMELEC has only called for a forum once, and the political parties were the only ones invited. The COMELEC did not do a grassroots education campaign on how to operate the automated polls. The students, therefore, find voting an inconvenient experience.

The manual voting system is a slow, rigorous, even laborious process, both for the political parties and the COMELEC. Candidates are to wait for two to three days before the final results are released, which are canvassed unceasingly day and night. But despite the length of this exercise, the sanctity and credibility of the ballot is ensured.

Next time, the COMELEC must educate the electorate on the electronic voting process or scrap the same if it is not feasible or acceptable.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Well, it’s all been said and done. The university’s super FRIDAY is coming after Valentine’s day and the future leaders shall be decided. I hope that the future leaders of the university amend the SEC and the SEC-IRR so it may contain the correct definition of SYNCHRONIZED, decide if we should go automated or manual, and make the Thomasians eager to participate in the student political process.

About carlomasajo
I am a 21 year old Fine Arts student from the University of Santo Tomas trying to help this nation become a better one.

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