The new ballot represents some interesting challenges come election day.
The first concerns the potential impact of human error on the elections.
Last May 3, my show was about some interesting findings by Anna Tabunda of Pulse Asia. Here’s the show:
Ana Maria Tabunda went through the sample ballots respondents used during the surveys to find out the incidence of:
1. Overvoting and
2. Improper shading.
She is concerned: her findings show both could have an impact on the elections, regardless of other factors such as fraud.
More or less 2% of presidential and veep votes suffered from overvoting, which would void the votes cast for the positions in actual conditions: potentially 400,000 votes based on an 80% turnout rate.
Most crucial was her finding that 3% of senatorial votes represented overvoting. This could have drastic results for the actual standing of candidates.
With regards to improper shading, the numbers are significantly large: 12% nationally or 4 million votes in actual conditions. Particularly high incidents of improper shading was registered among older voters and in Regions 1, 2, 3, 4A, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 12: potentially very significant for candidates strong in the Visayas.
She also said off camera that the 9% undecided percentage is historically big (6% at the same point in time in 2004) and in double digits (11-12%) in NCR and Balance Luzon, which has 56% of voters.
She also said more recent surveys than their last published one are embargoed, but is willing to share her concerns of the combined effects of the following:
1. The impact, both on undecided voters and the supporters of candidates, of the Erap surge;
2. The impact of heat and delays due to disorganization/voter confusion on actual turnout; supporters of candidates doing well in the surveys may be tempted to give up since their candidate is expected to win, anyway.
For those interested in such things, here are the numbers she shared with me on May 3:
The second concerns the impact of voter indecision (this isn’t specifically related to the ballt; but might be, for eample, in terms of hastily or incompletely-filled ballots).
Anna Tabunda also kindly shared with me her polling firm’s data on undecided voters:
It will be interesting to see whether these percentages hold true on election day. On one hand, they suggest a significant swing vote, not enough to affect the current trends in the presidential race perhaps but adding to the jitters among the top two contenders for the vice-presidency.
But Dr. Holmes, also of Pulse told me off camera last night that another possibility exists with undecided voters: they are the more likely not to bother to vote on election day or to go home without having voted if polling precincts get bogged down by long lines or confusion. In that case one could discount the undecideds as more likely not to have an impact on the final results.
Third there’s the question of whether automation will work on the whole, be an utter disaster, or what.
Come the closing of the polls and the counting of votes, the Comelec seems to have some plans in place.
If the precinct machines work all day in terms of accepting most validly-filled ballots, then the challenge is, will they transmit results and will those transmitted results be received, computed, and reported?
If machines don’t work, the Comelec says it is making provisions for ballots to be transported to nearby machines or, if those fail too, then to municipal or other centers with machines to count the transported ballots.
As it is, the Comelec also has provisions to count 30% of the ballots on a purely manual basis. What I found rather peculiar was that when it was proposed to have the necessary paraphernalia for a fully manual nationwide count prepared, the Comelec replied it would cross that bridge when it gets there. That the Comelec, in such a catastrophic situation (in terms of technology), could pass a Resolution for a national manual count, and that the lack of paraphernalia isn’t an issue, because the rules authorize the Comelec to authorize, in turn, the use of any available paper for impromptu official reports.
And there’s the question of the reporting of results.
Instead of adhering to a strict timetable as originally announced, the Comelec says it will update the results based on incremental percentages: see Comelec: Updates start Monday evening.
The blog alphanumeric has an entry on whether the PCOS machines will accept NPO-printed ballots on election day. See the KontraDaya2010 blog for more information on technical issues.