Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Malls, other public places to serve as polling centers

Manila Bulletin

Shopping malls and other similar public places would serve as polling centers in the future where voters can cast their votes as easy as withdrawing cash form an Automated Teller Machine (ATM).

In a forum over the weekend, Sen. Richard J. Gordon said voters will no longer have to troop to the provinces to vote.

“In the future, one only has to go to the mall, find an automated polling machine, and cast his or her vote. The idea is they can vote only once. If they do that in other machines, they will immediately be barred to vote again,” said Gordon, author of the automated elections law.

Gordon expressed confidence that the experience in the autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) can be replicated in the next elections in 2010.

The automated elections in ARMM were successful despite the unstable security situation, inadequate communication and transportation infrastructure, as well as the prevalence of illiteracy and widespread poverty in the region.

Gordon noted that despite the lack of time for massive voter education, the voters in Maguindanao generally described their voting experience as “easy and amazing.”

Vince Dizon, spokesman for Smartmatic-Sahi, the company which provided the technology used in the ARMM polls, said the success of the pilot test in Maguindanao proved that the country is ready for full automation come 2010 and beyond.

In the ARMM automated elections, more than 2,000 teachers in Maguindanao had a first-hand experience in using the Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) machines in the voting and counting process.

“It was Sen. Gordon’s efforts in the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on election automation that pushed the Comelec to ensure automation of the ARMM elections. We owe it to him that we were able to successfully pilot test the technologies in preparation for the 2010 national elections,” Dizon, who was at the same forum, said.

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