Were those glitches merely technical?
Suspicions surrounding the 2019 midterm elections are mounting. Although the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has assessed that this political exercise was quite a success, there is a growing speculation that it may have been rigged.
For one, people are asking why after the first volley of data transmissions at election night, the transparency mirror servers were suddenly halted for about seven hours. Early morning of the following day the transparency servers recorded 92.89% of the nationwide elections returns. But then at about 5:50 AM, GMA News reported that the ERs posted at the same servers recoiled back to 49.76%. Reportedly, the tech guys of Comelec blamed the snafu on “java error”. How on earth could a very serious nationwide tally be so technically irresponsible and backward in a time and age when even kids in school know coding and the facility of the programming language?
After 3 automated elections or 9 years of cuddling the vote counting machines (VCM), the technical glitches have worsened. In 2010, only 205 VCMs malfunctioned. This year, the 4th of automated exercise, 600 VCMs conked out, as if the billions of pesos budget were not enough to refurbish the machines that are used only once in every three years. Add to these woes were about 1,665 secure digital (SD) cards that did not work and, therefore, had to be replaced during these elections. In 2016 presidential elections only 120 SD cards were faulty. SD cards are not simple computer parts that can be bought openly from third party suppliers, because they can be preformatted to cause pre-programmed and even erroneous data memory.
Despite these serious technical glitches, Comelec has trivialized them saying that they did not destroy the integrity of the political exercise. But one malfunctioning VCM that was not replaced for one reason or the other, could easily have disenfranchised a good number of voters and, therefore, could seriously affect the close margins of democratically competing candidates. The glitches of these technical tools should never be dismissed as if they were a small percentage of the total number of VCMs. They have major political and credibility implications.
But how we wish and pray that those glitches were merely technical—and not indeed political.