By Charmaine A. Tadalan, Reporter

THE Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) on Friday presented its proposed alternative automated election system, aimed at improving transparency.

The vote tallying machine, as proposed, is a “point-of-sales style wireless terminal,” with an attached scanner and projector that allows poll watchers to capture, validate and display the physical ballot image.

“Makikita ng audience every vote, makikita nila ‘yung actual ballot. Kung wala silang rejection, isasama sa official count,” Acting Secretary Eliseo M. Rio Jr. said during a demonstration on Friday at the DICT Building in Quezon City. (The audience will see every vote, they’ll see the actual ballot. If they have nothing to reject, the ballot is not rejected, it will be included in the official count.)

DICT said the technology needed to develop the machines is available in the Philippines. It will present the same on July 15, alongside other developers, to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for its consideration.

The Department is also considering other modes of ballots that will not allow over-voting, which said had been a major problem in previous elections. Mr. Rio said the over 9 million votes for various candidates were not counted due to over-voting by around 1.2 million voters.

“Itong concept namin (Our concept) will make it impossible for the voter to vote more than what is needed,” Mr. Rio said.

The other modes the government can choose from include a hand-written, fill-in-the-blanks ballot with an optical character recognition that will auto-populate the enumerator app, a multiple choice ballot with an optical mark recognition engine, and a barcode sticker-based ballot with image processing engine.

“I think it’s about roughly around P700-800 million, ‘yung ginamit natin (what we spent) last electio. Ito (For this, we’ll use) P30 million, malaking savings makukuha sa ballot (which can generate savings),” Mr. Rio said, noting the Comelec will no longer need to print ballots unique to each local government units (LGUs).

At present, Comelec prints different ballots for each LGU for the election of local executives as well as members of the House of Representatives.

Moreover, the DICT said it is also in discussion with Congress for a possible amendment of the election automation law. “The lawmakers are already coming up with a hybrid law. In fact, we wanted the hybrid law to be implemented for the 2019 elections, but di na naabutan (it didn’t make it on time).”