GMA News Online

Tally on Comelec web site is official but confusing

May 21, 2010 5:19pm

The nation was amazed when soon after the country's first automated polls closed on the evening of May 10, the media, including this web site, began to broadcast and publish fast-running tallies based on election returns transmitted electronically from the precinct-based voting machines.

By late evening, it was clear that Sen. Noynoy Aquino was going to win by a landslide and that half a dozen senatorial candidates were headed for victory. But the media tallies were all unofficial.

The only official tally was on the public website of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), which slowed down and then stopped working in the evening of May 10. By the time it was up again, many users had enough time to peruse the results and pronounce the site confusing and downright unfriendly to the multitude of voters eager to see how their chosen candidates performed.

"I had to check [where Marikina was] in the four NCR subdivisions," Jaclyn Neils Palma-Samonte wrote on GMANews.TV's Facebook fan page after she tried to look for the results of the elections in Marikina City. "I gave up since there were a gazillion numbers to click."

The Philippine Election Results website shows the number of votes that each candidate, from the president down to the city or municipal board member, received. The website outlines the number of votes per region, narrowing down to the tallies per province, then per city or municipality, and then per clustered precinct.

This page from the Comelec results website shows how Hadji Muhtamad town in Basilan voted for the presidency.

Lynette Santiago wrote that the site was "okay if one wants to see the local election results, but it does not have much information on the national election results."

The website provides information on the election tally and the number of voter turnout down to the clustered precinct level, but it does not provide the total number of votes for the entire country. It also does not show the total number of election returns (ER) canvassed thus far, and the date when the tallies were last updated.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said in an interview that the Philippines Election Results website was a deliverable of Smartmatic, which was in charge of putting together the website, based on a Comelec-approved design and site map and functionality.

Jimenez added that the Comelec does not tally the results of the president and vice president positions, which is why there is no national tally for these positions.

"If you tally the precinct results, it becomes an entirely unofficial animal," he said. The canvassing of votes for the president and vice president positions will happen in Congress on May 24.

At a recent forum, Jimenez said that the Comelec was not required to provide a total tally of the results from the precinct level or even a running tally. "We'll provide the precinct data. That's more than we've ever done before," he said.

Asked why there were no national totals of the other national positions (senators and party-list groups), he said that the Comelec also wanted to keep the site "simple" to minimize glitches and keep the site from slowing down.

GMA's Eleksyon 2010 Dashboard shows the partial, unofficial tally of the entire country's votes for the national positions.

Ayi dela Cruz from Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG) said that she and their group used the Comelec website just to check the voter turnout but not the election results.

"[It was] not so reliable because in one instance, it published results from Tacloban with only 10 votes. It turned out, the CF cards used [in transmission] were the old ones for final testing and sealing; hence, the 10 votes," she said.

She suggested information that the Comelec should have provided on their results website.

"I think it would help to publish statistical reports as well - how many overvoted, how many abstained, etc. That way, [viewers] can complete the picture and would be able to explain the difference between the total number of registered voters and the total number who actually voted," she said.

Despite the flak received for the "unfriendly" website, there were a few who commended the Comelec for the effort but also suggested some improvements.

Bong Umpa wrote on the GMANews.TV Facebook fan page: "Generally speaking, [it was an] excellent job, although it needs further modifications."

Dom Francisco said, "[It's] very simple and easy to understand, but it can be more impressive appearance-wise." - HS, GMANews.TV
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