Lost in the Counting

The Inquirer editorial today appealed to the public’s Collective aspirations. There was a nice meme today: Today is for my mother, tomorrow is for my motherland. There’s also an eloquent entry in The Marocharim Experiment.

Election Day will be heralded by the ringing of churchbells. Elsewhere (for overseas Filipinos) the results have been discouraging in terms of turnout (see Why the low turnout of absentee voters).

First, some useful information:

See the May 10 Elections Primer on Bayanihan Online: this is a must-follow on Election Day and thereafter. Law Innovations has a handy Election Day Guide (in Filipino and English).
Google has Election 2010: Find Your Precinct.

Ralph Guzman has Election 2010: Contact Numbers, Resources, List of Candidates. Here’s my list of Things to help you make an informed choice.

And now, on E-Day:

Everyone, it seems, has contingency plans ready (see the Comelec’s Contingency plan and see Ralph de Guzman’s entry on corporate contingency plans).

Which brings us to this, the ballot.

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:

Sample Ballot Analysis

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:

indecision A

indecision B

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.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

36 thoughts on “Lost in the Counting

  1. There is only one problem that I can clearly imagine in this election. And that is that if the pcos machine spewed out the name of the unwinnable, and the unwinnable wins the election, :).

  2. There is only one problem that I can clearly imagine in this election. And that is that if the pcos machine spewed out the name of the unwinnable, and the unwinnable wins the election, 🙂

    ….and Gordon wins! he will have a heyday giving everybody the finger…

  3. Praying that the Filipinos will have a clean, honest, safe National election. With all these latest technology, we could more or less expect a swift, accurate result free from any tampering and computer glitch. May God Bless the Filipinos in exercising their right to vote the right men/women to lead them in the coming years. May the BEST men/women wins!

    The whole world is watching!

  4. Roxas backstabbed! I was so happy ang ladlad is losing in a miserable way, and Villar, too, but Roxas would’ve made this election complete for me.

  5. Biggest winners in this election:

    1. Jojo Binay – By far the biggest winner. His phenomenal come-from-behind win is unprecedented on a national scale and will be talked about for years to come.

    2. COMELEC, especially Larrazabal, who was calm, composed and unassuming, even during the most trying periods. Despite, glitches here and there, COMELEC has proven that automation can be done. And it will be the only way to go from now on. We cannot have anything less.

    3. The Filipino people, who were calm and composed despite the delays, the glitches and the terrible inconveniences. The people wanted to exercise suffrage and they wanted automation to work. They had to bend over backward, and, in the end, it paid off. Big time!

    4. Chiz Escudero, whose political career was resuscitated by his endorsement of Binay. He has managed to destroy a possible political rival in Mar Roxas and has come out looking like a kingmaker. Of course, what he doesn’t realize is that Binay will be the biggest obstacle to anybody’s political ambitions. Binay will be the man to watch.

    5. Noynoy Aquino, who has finally achieved what, for months, was supposed to be his “manifest destiny”. The country will now wait and see if the product is “as advertised”.

    The biggest loser is Mar Roxas. His spectacular crash, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, has saved Villar from becoming the laughingstock of this election. It will be argued, for years to come, who ran the more incompetent campaign. The phenomenal downfall of Mar gives him the edge.

    Other losers are Namfrel, the Makati Business Club and all those defeatists who kept hammering away against automation and the COMELEC. I hope that PPCRV become the accredited poll watchdog and that we never hear from those prophets of doom from Namfrel. Special notice goes to Bertie Lim, Joey Cuisia, Bill Luz and the Monsod couple, especially the loudmouth fishmonger of a wife.

    In the end, a job well done to the Filipino people. Congratulations! I hope this marks a new beginning.

  6. What’s so great about PPCRV? Their election tally is so slow, lagging so far behind the comelec’s, any and all election results that came from them is always old news already. Their server machine too obsolete, can’t receive transmissions of votes from the precinct. Palpak.

  7. Anyhow, better the PPCRV than those sanctimonious nincompoops from Namfrel and Makati Business Club. And, of course, well-deserved kudos to the COMELEC. They pulled it off when they nay-sayers were like Chicken Little, proclaiming that the sky would fall down. And, of course, it couldn’t have happened without the patience and cooperation of the Filipino people. The nation so wanted to have automation to work, that they almost willed it to happen. Now, there’s no going back! How different it feels from those bad old days!

  8. The leftists were also losers. Satur, Maza, Baraquel failed to make it to the senate. Meanwhile, Bong Bong Marcos won comfortably.

    Fr. Ed Panlilio has been unseated, while Grace Padaca faces a very strong challenge. Trapos on the comeback?

    Manny Pacquiao was a winner. Lucy Torres looks headed for Congress. The Estradas are firmly entrenched in San Juan. So are the Binays in Makati. And the Singsons in Ilocos Sur.

    A mixed bag, most definitely. But I’m glad the elections proceeded rather peacefully and rapidly. And without as many protests and accusations of cheating.

    Yes, I agree, there’s no going back after this historic election.

  9. I believe the filipino people deserves a pat in the back for making it through the election. Its a historic election indeed

  10. Binay is accusing Mar Roxas of trying to cheat him in Mindanao. My, my . . . I do hope the bad old days of dag-dag bawas will be a thing of the past.

    Mar, how could you???!!!

    Please say it aint so! 🙂

  11. Mukhang gusto talaga ng mga Pinoy voters sa vice president e maging parang “foil” sa president. Nung post-Edsa, magkaiba palagi ng partido ang presidente at bise-presidente maliban kay Cory at Doy na naluklok dahil sa Edsa. Kahit pa nung post-war, ito na ang logic ng president-vice president pairing (i.e., North-South).

    Nung una, yung pagka-suklam ng mga botante sa pagiging “political butterfly” ni Loren e mas nangibabaw sa preference na ‘to. Pero nung pumasok ang Chiz endorsement at makita ng karamihan na mukhang may sense ang sinasabi ni Chiz (Aquino honesty + Binay practicality), e nag-swing ang Loren at Mar votes kay Binay.

  12. Looking at the partial results. I now apprciate that Nonoy Aquino run. Otherwise we will be back with Erap as president.

  13. Cebu, Tarlac, Negros Occ. and Iloilo have not been transmitted. These are the clincher provinces for the Veep race. That they haven’t been factored into the reported results explains why Binay is trying to foster the impression he has a commanding and unassailable lead. You’d only know whether his lead is insurmountable if these provinces have already been counted.

  14. Question for you Manolo about senate composition. Since the Nonoy will be elevated to Presidentcy , then there will be a vacant seat in the senate. I sthere a possiblity for the 13th winner in the senatorial election to occupy the seat that will be vacated by Noynoy. That way my favorite senatorial candaite Risa Hontiveros Baraquel can be a senator.

  15. I was almost disowned by my mother, aunts, lolas, for not voting for Erap…I don’t know whats with this guy that my relatives in Mindanao are so stricken, I can’t even reason with them…most especially the women, the men I was able to shift to Noynoy…
    Too bad Hontiveros didn’t make it, she could have been a breath of fresh air to the senate…
    …then again, when the election is over, its time to get down and dirty and as Carl Cid would say “pull ourselves by our bootstraps” because we’ve only just begun…
    I’m in Singapore already but I’m proud to wear my shirt with the Philippine map on it…

  16. Roxas still has a very good chance. He can count of being a million ahead in the untransmitted results from region 6.

    I find Noynoy very weak without an ally for his VP. They tried to do him once and no reason not to try again.

  17. But then without Roxas, Noynoy will shine more.What ever suceess he will attain will be attributted to him alone and not becuase Roxas is there by his side.

  18. I think that Noynoy is his own man. And Binay, though not a political ally, is a personal one. I have it from a reliable source that it was Binay who hid and took care of Noynoy after his ambush by the RAM near Mendiola. They’re friends up to the present.

  19. Binay has long been a supporter of the Aquino family. If I remember correctly he even got his start working for Cory Aquino. Further, he was one of the leading advocates of the anti-GMA movement. So, likely there is some personal and ideological compatibility there if Roxas loses.

    There was basis behind that early talk about Binay feeling like he was caught in the middle when Aquino declared. If it wasn’t for Erap I think we would have seen Binay behind Noynoy. Also, Binay did help broker the truce between Erap and Cory…

    That being said, Binay remains fairly corrupt. I hope that if Roxas loses some sort of consensus (beyond personal friendship) can be formed between Noynoy and Binay.

  20. fairly corrupt? how did you comeup with that scale? is there such a thing as fairly corrupt, very corrupt? To me if Binay is corrupt then he is corrupt , the law doesn’t make any distinction

  21. @alden40

    Don’t be black and white. The law may not recognize it here, but there are grades in terms of corruption and law-breaking.

    Or are you saying the corrupt police officer who accepts 100 pesos damages the country just as much as the politician who embezzles 200 million pesos of pork barrel? They are both corrupt, but on different scales.

    I was not defending Binay, just making a statement. Compared to others in this race and in the government, he is corrupt but not on their level. It remains to be seen though, if he retains his lead, if he will try and approach their level.

  22. Alden I think to fill a vacancy you need a special election. But it wouldv’e been difficult to justify a special election for a theoretical vacancy since neither Villar nor Aquino could justify prior to election, that one or the other would surely be elected and thus, create a vacancy that needs to be filled.

  23. Based on Inquirer’s transmission figures, ARMM has the least percentage of votes transmitted so far (41% still to be transmitted). Will ARMM be key again, like in 2004 and 2007?

    Then it’s Central Visayas (22% still to be transmitted). Cebu was key for GMA in 2004, will it be key for Roxas in 2010 as well? Does Binay have cause for concern?

    After Cebu, it’s Eastern Visayas (Samar & Leyte) and the Ilocos Region with 18% still to be transmitted. And the Cordilleras, with about 16% to transmit.

    Finally, there are Western Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula and Northern Mindanao with roughly 15% still to transmit.

    The only region where Roxas clearly holds a sizable advantage is Western Visayas, although Binay didn’t do too badly, and even showed surprising strength, based on returns from Roxas’ bailiwick of Roxas City.

    Ilocos region, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula and Northern Mindanao, where Erap is popular, would most likely go for Binay.

  24. Memo to Korina:

    As you well the digitizing of the counting and canvassing of votes may give rise also to digitized cheating.

    I am sure you guys have already duplicates memory cards that are already filled up. It is easier to substitute these memory cards containing altered votes to assist your husband.

    Also it is easier to pinpoint where the substitution of votes can take place.

    Mar may not have the balls to do this but Korina does have the balls to get this done.

    The wonders of digital technology cuts both ways.

  25. The worst thing that could happen would be substantial accusations of cheating in the vice-presidential race. This would cast a shadow over the entire proceedings and eliminate any sort of gains that were made on Monday.

    With Erap’s election lawyer already posturing to file a lawsuit this could drag on yet again. Exactly what we do not need as a democracy trying to mature.

    I hope it doesn’t turn out we only had one day where we could live without concerns of tainted results.

  26. “I hope it doesn’t turn out we only had one day where we could live without concerns of tainted results.”

    I agree. It wasn’t the prettiest and most graceful of steps, but last Monday was definitely a step forward. I hope we can maintain the forward momentum, and not fall back. We also hope that Mar and his backers will be gracious enough to accept defeat, painful though it may to lose in such an epic fail.

  27. I shudder to think of Erap being president again had Cory not died and given Noynoy momentum.

    But then again, those attributed-by-Cory’s-death-Noynoy-votes could have gone to Villar, which would have made for a close fight between Villar and Erap.

    But still, I’m glad Noynoy has some semblance of majority votes. That will keep the Eraphiles at bay (from taking to the streets that is).

    By the way, I’m still calling you out Manolo for CRYING WOLF! Ha! You’re looking more like the fool than the seer so far.

    Let’s give it a couple of months and we’ll know who’s right on whether GMA will fade into irrelevancy or will be a factor in the years to come. I still wager that she’ll be tried and lose support from her KAMPI machinery, which will gravitate towards Noynoy.

  28. I’m disappointed Randy David pulled out though 🙁

    I also predicted Panlilio would have swept Pineda. That makes me a fool in this regard.

    Maybe, Randy would have lost to GMA anyway, if we go by Eddie’s thread. Oh well. I guess my fellow Kapampangans aren’t that enlightened as I thought.

  29. Binay must be having sleepless night indeed considering his narrow lead over Mar. He has more than enough reason to worry. It’s not only Mar and Korina who want him to lose, PGMA might also prefer a Mar vice-president than a Binay vice-president, who knows, :). We have been traumatized for so long already by this cheating culture, as long as PGMA is there at the top there will always be this shadow of doubt about the credibility of election results.

    Let’s just be content with that one day of glory. At least it had shown us a clear picture that it pays not to cheat in the election seeing Melo’s and his comissioners’ proud smiles last Monday announcing the early results, in contrast with the frown in the faces of Abalos’ and company after the 2004 election, heheh.

  30. The law of unintended consequences will make the 2013 elections the bloodiest I think. Seeing that politicians won’t be able to manipulate votes at the precint level, political enemies will just resort to shooting their rivals.

    And bribes galore! The voter will matter more now that the numbers couldn’t be fuddled. Expect more cash at the booths instead of at the commissioner level.

    What will this mean for Gloria? Will she have the money and muscle to rain money on voters? Of course not. Gloria may be rich, but she ain’t wealthy. Without holding the string to the national purse, she’ll be begging out of Noynoy’s hand. What a sight that will be!

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