Philippine polls - now what?

Polls have closed...an hour later than first announced. Votes have been cast…after long delays and technical glitches. And many have returned home from voting centers even more confused than when they first got there.

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    Polls have closed...an hour later than first announced.  

    Votes have been cast…after long delays and technical glitches.  

    And many have returned home from voting centres even more confused than when they first got there.  What happens next isn’t really clear to majority of the voters.

    It would seem that the complicated – and monumental – task of officially tallying the votes could begin.  

    But apparently, not quite yet.  At around 6pm local time on Monday (GMT +8) – an hour before the poll extension was to end, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) announced that official “canvassing” – which in Philippine elections means the tallying or collating of election returns – was to be delayed – and “official results” wouldn't be available in 36 hours as earlier predicted.  

    The problems throughout the day slowed down the entire process.

    At the end of voting, the automated machines have to be secured, and election results printed from each of them.  These results then have to be transmitted to the Comelec’s official canvassing centres.  

    In areas where electronic transmission is unavailable, the memory cards from the machines have to be transported to more “technologically friendly” sites.  

    It is during this “transmission – transportation” period that many worry electoral fraud might still occur.  The Comelec says it has appropriate security measures in place… but this hasn’t abated much of the concern.  

    There were wide-spread reports of vote-buying throughout the day, and various attempts at coercion and sowing fear among the voters.  Despite a voter turn-out projection of 80%, many polling precincts were under-manned and ill-equipped to handle the large number that did come to cast their ballots.  

    Already several municipalities are facing declarations of election failure – which would mean voters in those areas would have to go through the whole process again within 30 days.  

    There were also incidents of violence reported throughout the country which resulted in a number of deaths.  But the military has said, that compared to previous polls, there was much less trouble in this one.

    Unofficial results from accredited watchdogs are now trickling out.  Election returns are available to them as and when they come in – and working through the night, these watchdogs are providing the nation with an insight into the likely outcome.  

    Questions are already being asked as to when the protests will begin.  It’s another staple of Philippine elections --- as soon as any results become apparent, they are challenged.

    The worse could still be far from over.

    All things considered though, the landmark, first ever fully automated elections went much better than sceptics had feared.  

    The official tallying – or canvassing – of results, however, is a whole other matter.


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