Friday, January 1, 2010

Automated Election Year

2010 is a big election year for the Philippines. And we’re not just going to have a new president but we’re also going to have a brand new way of electing our public officials. Automated is a word that people like to pass around this year but what does it exactly mean as it pertains to casting our votes?

Well, our Commission On Elections is conducting an ongoing automated elections campaign not just all over the country but also right here in cyberspace. And I was fortunate enough to be among the educated as I covered the recent launch of three major websites for this purpose for the Infotech section of the Manila Bulletin.

And here’s my story:


EVEN as it continues its ongoing nationwide demonstration tour with automated elections systems provider Smartmatic, the Commission On Election (Comelec) continues to step up its voter education campaign with not just one but three recently launched websites.

The three sites, namely Bagong Botante ( I.B.A. Na Ngayon ( and Political Arena ( each present different ways in which the general public can familiarize themselves not only with the new automated electoral process in general but also with the general platforms of the candidates running for national positions.

In I.B.A. Na Ngayon in which I.B.A. stands for “It’s Better Automated,” the website illustrates the step-by-step process on how one can cast his vote and how the process makes it easier to count votes where a winning local candidate can be proclaimed within hours. It also makes it faster and easier to see which presidential candidate is clearly leading until he or she is officially declared winner by congress. There are articles, slideshows and videos to guide voters on how to fill up special paper ballots for automated polls and how the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machine, 82,200 of which will be used for the 2010 elections, works.

The site provides a link to Bagong Botante, a social networking community site developed by AMCA Smart Solutions to encourage everyone “to participate and become very involved in 2010 using the internet to learn, understand, teach others and help ensure the success of the election.” Here, members can interract with each other through blogs, online forums and real-time chats.

Political Arena, on the other hand, is described as “the country’s first socio-political networking site a one-stop shop to access all candidates in one arena that allows voters to make informed decisions.”

It compiles all the latest available information on personalities who have already declared their intention to run for the highest office in the land, even if many of them have yet to file their Certificates of Candidacy as of this writing. Candidates and voters who sign up as members may also post photos and videos and join forums on issues like labor and employment, politics, national affairs, economy and commerce, and education. There are also sections news and announcements as well as a countdown calendar for a complete political resource.

All three sites also include links to popular social networking sites Facebook, Friendster, Plurk, Multiply, Twitter and YouTube.

Describing the internet as “the most efficient way of disseminating information,” Comelec spokesman James Jimenez pointed out that it is in fact “less costly to put out information on the web, where it stays longer as compared to scheduled print, radio, and TV advertising.” “Information has to be available to people all the time and that’s already possible with the internet,” he argues.

Jimenez added that the three websites will be constantly updated as new information and election developments come in.

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