Philippines sees fastest election results ever despite voting machine bugs

Philippines Election
Image by grebeshkovmaxim | Bigstockphoto

Despite a record number of malfunctioning voting machines, the Philippines reported the fastest transmission of election results in its history, according to the country’s Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Comelec commissioner George Garcia said more than 80,000 vote counting machines (VCMs) have transmitted results as of 11 pm on Monday night, compared to 70,000 machines in the 2016 and 2019 elections, and just 50,000 in the 2010 and 2013 elections.

The high transmission rate came despite a number of glitches that plagued voting machines on election day. As many as 2,000 machines malfunctioned, according to reports, representing about 2% of the total number of machines used.

Garcia said that the glitches were “common challenges”, pertaining to jammed machines (940), rejected ballots (606), problems with the scanners (158), and machines that were not printing (87). They also reported a total of 51 broken machines and 102 replaced SD cards as of 11 am on Tuesday.

The malfunctioning machines caused long lines and delays at polling places around the country. Some voters were forced to wait until the dawn of the next day to cast their ballots.

Election watchdog group Kontra Daya noted that the number of broken machines in the 2022 elections is almost double from the past elections. In the 2016 and 2019 elections, only 801 and 961 machines, respectively, were reported to have malfunctioned.

“Kontra Daya fears this may lead to disenfranchisement,” the group said in a statement.

Voters also cautioned against leaving ballots with the electoral board, saying that they would rather wait for the machines to be fixed and feed their ballots themselves.

At press time, with over 98% of precincts reporting, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son of dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr., was leading the presidential race with a record-breaking 31 million votes. Current vice-president of the Philippines and opposition leader Leni Robredo was a far second at 14.8 million votes.

In a statement on Monday night, Robredo thanked her supporters and urged them to continue fighting for democracy in the Philippines.

“This is a movement that was formed not only to dismantle an old and decaying system but also to forge a true and positive change. You have embodied democracy, not only in voting but also in showing your love for fellow Filipinos. This is a very big victory. And our campaign can only be considered a failure if we allow the unity we have formed to fall apart,” she added.

The Marcos family has been accused of electoral fraud in the past, most notably in the 1986 snap elections that saw Ferdinand Marcos Sr. declare himself president for another six-year term. The election was marred by allegations of voter intimidation, ballot-box stuffing, and media manipulation.

This time, Marcos Jr. and his camp have allegedly hired troll farms to spread disinformation about the election and discredit his opponents. Social media became the ultimate battleground for the two camps, with supporters of both sides going head-to-head online. Fake news and misinformation also proliferated in the lead-up to the election.

The seemingly landslide victory of Marcos Jr. has been met with skepticism by many, who are calling for an investigation into the allegations of fraud.

Leni Robredo won the 2016 vice-presidential election by a slim margin of around 200,000 votes over Marcos Jr. The results were contested by the Marcoses, but the Supreme Court upheld Robredo’s victory.

The Philippines has been praised for its relatively peaceful and orderly elections, in contrast to other Asian countries like Bangladesh, Cambodia, and India.

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