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THE FLAME EXPLAINS: Are Voting Receipts Necessary?

art by ELIZABETH RACHEL L. LAUS
art by ELIZABETH RACHEL L. LAUS
 
AFTER THE Supreme Court (SC) affirmed its ruling for the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to issue voting receipts, the Philippines’ third fully automated national elections last May added the said feature in the voting process. But is it necessary?

Section 6 of Republic Act 9369, also known as the Automated Election Law, requires a voter-verified audit paper trail (VVPAT), better known as the voting receipt.

The VVPAT is a generic receipt printed on thermal paper that indicates the votes that the vote-counting machine (VCM) tallied for every ballot. It is given to voters for verification but it cannot be brought outside nor photographed. Should a voter have concerns, it should be raised to the Board of Election Inspectors.

Asst. Prof. Dennis Coronacion, chairperson of the UST Department of Political Science, believes that the issuance of voting receipts in this year’s elections sets it apart from the 2010 and 2013 elections since it addressed voters’ clamor for transparency and lack of trust in the VCMs.

“Transparency means na, we, as voters, will be given a feedback by the machine or by Comelec na what they wrote in the ballot was actually processed by the machine, true to what is written in the ballot. ‘Yung details ng receipts should be faithful to what the voters wrote in the ballot,” said Coronacion.

However, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez believes that voting receipts “simply create an avenue for people to doubt the system, if they wanted to.”

“It creates an opportunity for someone with bad intentions to lie about the elections and say, ‘Mali ‘yung nakalagay sa resibo kasi iba ‘yung binoto ko.’ And they can do that with impunity, because they know that we will not check the ballot, so it’s like giving them a free pass to lie…Ever since, and through three commissions, consistent ang stand ng Comelec: This (voting receipt) is unnecessary. There are no rules for its use. And it’s dangerous,” warned the Comelec spokesperson.

Despite this, Jimenez noted that they received positive reception from the public upon issuance of voting receipts.

“Prior to the elections, ang daming naglabasan na fake reports about it, pero again, napatunayan naman nating fake, at napatunayan nating hindi naganap kasi nung ‘yung malawakang halalan na ang ginawa dito, walang nagreklamo,” said Jimenez.

Junior Communication Arts student Bianca Navarro, for instance, had no problem with her voting receipt, except for the short time given to verify her votes. “Parang ang tiningnan ko lang is vice president, president, tapos kinuha na nila agad,” she added.

On a similar note, junior Communication Arts student Arianne Pineda is in favor of issuing voting receipts during elections. “Para ma-review din ng tao, kasi diba nagkakatalo sa mga ganyan? Dayaan daw, kahit ilagay mo daw ‘yung ibang candidate, ibang candidate ‘yung lilitaw.

Despite Comelec’s apprehension, Coronacion emphasized that issuing voting receipts makes a huge impact on the electorate, as it gives them “peace of mind” that elections are honest and credible. “Importante ‘yan to show them that the electoral process, specifically [the] election itself, is legitimate.”

Such is true for third year Behavioral Science student Carissa Orence, who is in favor of having the voting receipt. “Mas maganda kasi nave-verify ‘yung [binoto] mo, tapos alam mong [legitimate] talaga kasi may resibo.NAOMI GABRIELLE J. LORETO

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