LP to Comelec: Don't disenfranchise 3M voters

June 4, 2010 8:02 pm 

By Mediatrix P. Cristobal

MANILA, June 4 — The Liberal Party on Friday appealed to the Commission on Elections not to allow the disenfranchisement of about three million Filipino voters, and urged the poll body to instead back the proposal to count the millions of votes that it had declared null due to technical reasons,

“The public has the right to know the complete results of the May 10 elections. Not counting the null votes and those not counted because the canvassing threshold was lowered or because the PCOS machine transmitted the wrong votes would disenfranchise the millions who own these votes,” LP vice president for Policy, Platform and Advocacy Florencio “Butch” Abad said.

Abad said the Comelec should not have dismissed the proposal of the Aquino-Roxas Bantay Balota (ARBB), a vote protection volunteer group, to have the null votes counted by the Joint Canvassing Committee.

“Why is the Comelec against the counting of the null votes? Why did it dismiss the ARBB proposal? Is it because it does not want to tarnish the image of what it claims was a successful conduct of the country’s first automated elections?” he asked.

Abad said that unless the Comelec agrees to review the ballots and reconsider the null votes, “the credibility and integrity of the automated election would always be in doubt.”

“We should not disenfranchise any one of our countrymen. Let’s count all the votes, let’s be accurate. Let’s be speedy but let us be accurate,” he said.

He said the Comelec should keep an open mind about the opening of the ballots as this could help the Commission improve the automated system for the next elections.

Abad also reiterated the ARBB call for the conduct of a random manual audit by the Joint Canvassing Committee to check how and why the 2.6 million votes were declared null.

"For the benefit of the 2.6 million voters who cast their votes for the vice-presidential race but were not counted, we should conduct the manual audit and determine whether or not the nullification of the votes were correct or not,” he said.

The three million votes in danger of being nullified include the 2.6 million votes cast for Vice-President on May 10 but were declared “null” because of over-voting or under-shading; the more than 272,000 votes not tallied in the COCs because of the incomplete transmission of Certificates of Canvass; and the 80,000 to 140,000 plus votes that would come from the special elections to be held in Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sarangani and Western Samar.

The LP-ARBB questioned the unusually high rate of null votes for the position of Vice-President, especially those in areas considered as bailiwicks of LP vice-presidential candidate Sen. Mar Roxas.

For instance, in Regions 6 and 7 where Roxas won overwhelmingly over other VP bets, there were more than 500,000 “null votes”. If 50 percent to 60 percent of these votes are for Roxas, which is the voting trend in the two regions, this would be equivalent to about 250,000 to 300,000 votes.

There are also about 272,000 votes that were not tallied in the COCs due to the lowering of canvassing thresholds nationwide and because many PCOS machines transmitted Final Testing and Sealing (FTS) results instead of the actual number of votes cast on Election Day. (PNA)<br>RMA/MPC

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