Alternative TEXT/SMS Voting for 2010 Philippine Elections

Before we go into the SMS/Text Voting for 2010 Philippine elections, we must first re-analyze the currently proposed Full Automation of Elections for 2010. Be it SMS/Text Voting or Automating Philippine Elections in 2010, its up to you.

Automation in the 2010 Philippine Elections

The COMELEC has asked for P11.3 billion to fund such a project. How can we make the automated system easy to use? In Florida, a poorly designed voting machine led to 13% not casting their vote for their desired representative. The touch-screen interface was inconsistent, leading to confusion and a phenomenon known as “banner blindness”. In Finland, the lack of clear instructions (poorly designed process) led to 232 voters (out of 12,234) not finishing the voting process. These voters failed to notice that they had to “validate” their votes after making their picks.

If an independent state in the US got it wrong, think of a nationwide election scenario, with millions of votes to process, these errors will increase in scale. Imagine the situation here in the Philippines, as election sore losers have all the right to complain if ever erroneous results come about in different parts of the Philippines.

Ergonomics & Research

Ergonomics is the study of making stuff “User-friendly or Easy to use” for users or consumers of a particular product and/or service (It’s my own lay-man’s definition). Usability is a crucial factor for this system to work. Not just usability, but efficiency as well is needed. Processes need to be simple, quick and effective to the Lay-man. Election machines designs must consider the user experience, or how the average user will react to such a device. Aside from that, programming and Management Information systems also plays a part in this. If the machine is touch sensitive, then the displays must be clear and instructions must be concise.

After all the hardware and software stuff has been done, next is testing. It needs to be simulated through a controlled experiment, in order to work out possible bugs in the program or hardware difficulties. Contingency planning must be done as well in order to counter any possible errors that may be encountered during implementation. You need to first test them on a small scale, and resolve any issues encountered. Before you can even think of wide-scale implementation, all potential problems—and their solutions—must be clear.

Our current process is simple as it is simply writing stuff down on a piece of paper. And even then, some people get it wrong; what more if you force people to vote in a way they’re not used to? The majority of election machines fail to take this reality into account properly.

That is why I am quite skeptical if those COMELEC people push through with their so-called automation plan. And what’s really bothering me is they are talking about stuff that I believe they have little or even no understanding at all. Not that I am underestimating or looking down at their intellect, but the way I see it, it shouldn’t be bided away to a company as to its implementation, and processes. It should be those in charge of the Election for they should take into consideration the interests of the people for the shift from manual to automated elections has a lot of factors to consider. And judging from the WISDOM of other countries, there’s a noticeable lack of learning from the results of the small scale tests. It seems those who implement automated election systems don’t learn from their mistakes.

Don’t get me started on the budget, 11.3 billion pesos to be spent for a short period of time is simply not practical for our country. Why spend so much? Just so we can once again “show off” to the world that we too can do that? Automation or the use of some high tech technology won’t reflect political maturity, and if ever (not being pessimistic) these automation plans push through (despite of it being obviously rushed), and we or they for some reason fail miserably..then we would just end up a laughing stock to the world.

Please enough of copying whatever that is used by the west. We should make our own processes or systems that are tailor-made or customized for Filipinos. So COMELEC people, please consider, the system, the time, the people’s money first, for when we rush things, we are prone to mistakes, more errors rather than considering multiple factors and moving forward slowly but surely. With that, a properly automated election system may not be ready by 2010.

SMS/Text Voting an Alternative

Philippines is the Texting Capital of the World, Let’s Start with that. So with that logic, we can assume that there are more people (even the old ones) have or has a degree of understanding on how to “Text” or send SMS messages compared to that of those mature people in operating a PC or a New Touch sensitive automated voting system.

Now, that has been established we can go about the alternative sub systems to be used to go about SMS Voting for the 2010 Philippine Elections. We can start with the SIM CARD. Let’s say it’s a government issued sim card that is only available during elections and must be surrendered after voting. And as far as the LOAD, there is only enough load to be voted for candidates in different positions.

Now let us go to another issue, voting from home or voting in precincts? I would go for the precincts for it is difficult to monitor if it is left at home; here is how I visualize it:

I get up on Voting day (Assuming that I have already pre-registered to be issued with a voting sim card), do all the necessary stuff like taking a bath and the like. I bring my cellphone with me and arrive at the precinct falling in line to receive the sim card.

When I receive the sim, I am asked to stay in a booth to immediately vote and SMS my vote (inside the booth are instructions on how to SMS one’s vote). After voting, I go to the area where I will surrender the sim and get validated to gain proof that I had voted already (it can be the traditional inking or use of software database).

I get out and shout. YEHEY!


In the Precinct

Pre-registration is encouraged or make it compulsory; People in the Precinct include: Sim distributors, Sim collectors, Database or ink-person, 4 military/police men (2 w/ uniforms & 2 disguised) to make sure no one steals the sims, volunteers to monitor & assist in smoothening of the process; In the precinct, perhaps we should make posters as to the so-called plans/platform of the candidate, currently held position, track-record and the like.

So, what do you think?

Comments, criticisms are welcome for I just thought about this in like 4 hours or so…
Alternative TEXT/SMS Voting for 2010 Philippine Elections Alternative TEXT/SMS Voting for 2010 Philippine Elections Reviewed by Vernon Joseph Go on Saturday, May 23, 2009 Rating: 5


  1. i dont think tha the automatio of elections for 2010 is such short term as you might think. 11.3 billion could be an investment not only to the 2010 elections but also to elections that follow it.

    as far as texting being an alternative, we can never assume that all filipinos have a cell phone even thought we are the text capital of the world. also, we must take into consideration the number of voters in the Philippines.

    there have been reports of texting in reality tv shows going awry based on the number of texts that enter the system.

    but, this ain't a small scale reality tv show. this is 90+ Million of people we are talking about.

    yun lang. :D

  2. not all filipinos has cellphones or even knew how to use it.
    This is not feasible!!haha

  3. This is not a case of the Philippines mimicking other countries' automation of elections,the Philippines would be leading the world in establishing a fully automated, secure election. Many countries resist implementing the secure, reliable and transparent systems that are available today because that would disrupt the methods that many powerful elites have for "influencing" the outcome of elections.It is commendable that the government has the will to implement such a system and has established a budget to invest in a system that will serve the country well for many years to come. I wonder why you seem to be afraid of that and why you publish it in a way that can sow fear of positive progress among readers.

  4. all inputs are duly noted, but anything that is done in haste is/are bound to get a lots of mistakes along the way...that's all i'm saying and they should consider their options well for in the end it is the people who will be affected positive result or not..

    just my 2 cents :)