PCOS Election Machine

A TV host said that the Filipino ingenuity came out in the ongoing Philippine national election. Why? Being the first ever election to be automatedusing the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) election machine, the fear of malfunctions happening in poll locations around the country is high. And the widespread fear seems to be coming true, even at the time of this writing. There are already reports of the machines being clogged and not working properly, and that manual voting has been implemented in many precincts.

The initial goal of the poll automation was to speed up the count of some 50 million voters and help avoid human error or rigging. Now what — is this what we call speeding up election results through spending 7.2-billion pesos (US$149 million) for a project that seems to fail?

And here is where Filipino ingenuity comes in. I just saw a video of one of the election volunteers getting a broom and using it to push ballots into the PCOS machines after they stopped working due to clogging. What a disgusting (can also be seen as funny) scene to behold while people wait in line to cast their votes! At least the incident and the failure of the machines did not hamper the desire of the voters to practice their rights to suffrage.

The force of the Filipino bloggers and the use of the web to report incidents of failures around the hundreds of Philippine islands where voting has been happening, are nothing but pure stellar. People are texting, twittering, and posting updates on Facebook — from the long line of voters, to people collapsing due to the very hot weather, to vote-buying incidents, to irregularities in polls.

Samples tweets:
— coderadiophils via SMS: Elem. Libertad Tayug Pangasinan PCOS machine broke down, no more indelible ink. – election observer 3:05pm

— Menardconnect: PCOS machine in the other cluster precint (LWES Bldg 1, Lopez Quezon) fixed

— MaeAberdeen: Santiago City, Isabela – 2 men of Armando Tan, dead and 4 men of Amy Navarro, wounded. Amy and Armando,both running for mayor.

— pauljohnpena: Comelec will decide en banc on the proposal to declare total failure of elections. Briefing by James Jimenez of comelec.

Others are sending photos via twitpic. Here is one picture from the account of ErnieSarmiento with the former Philippine president Joseph “Erap” Estrada casting his vote in San Juan.

If you have a twitter account, you will see that the Philippine election (#halalan) is now a popular trending topic. That is how busy the Filipinos are right now in using social networking sites to spread local news and election details.

There are still 5 hours before the polls close and tallying could start. Whatever the results of the elections and whoever wins the presidency, I wish this will be a start to a better beginning.