(SPOT.ph) No one ever expects a perfect election, but when more and more questionable issues pile up, it's hard not to take notice. Despite it being the fourth automated elections in the Philippines, the 2019 elections seemed to encounter more issues than the 2016 elections.
As of 2 p.m. of May 13, 400 to 600 out of 85,000 vote counting machines in precincts across the country were reported to have glitches—triple that of the 2016 elections, where only 188 vote counting machines (VCM) ran into problems.
"A thousand SD cards have experienced issues which translates to about 400 to 600 VCM's," COMELEC spokesperson James Jimenez was quoted in a report by the Inquirer.net. On May 10, the commission said it had to replace more than 600 SD cards after receiving reports that around 686 of 87,769 were corrupted. Despite this, issues still persisted on the day of the election.
Some voters had to wait in line longer until replacement units were made available, while others resorted to manual voting. Taking the issue to social media, some voters complained about being asked to leave their shaded ballots behind instead of seeing them get fed into the VCM.
With social-media users complaining about discrepancies between their actual votes and the votes reflected on the receipt, having no access to their receipts to make the necessary complaints and corrections led to the dissatisfaction of many. The hashtag #HalalanDayaan2019 has consistently been trending since May 13.
"This is unacceptable, especially since these same VCMs were supposedly tested less than a week ago. One would expect that with greater experience with automated elections, COMELEC would perform better. Instead, the opposite is happening," says Barry Gutierrez, volunteer spokesperson of Otso Diretso, in a statement.
He also noted that the COMELEC has yet to grant the Liberal Party (under which the Otso Diretso slate is running) access to their mirror servers. On May 9, the commission declared the Nacionalista Party as the dominant minority, giving them access to the sixth copy of election returns from the VCM's, instead of the opposition bets.
Adding fuel to the fire, delays in the transmission of data to the Commission on Elections' (Comelec) transparency server also sparked concern. Media reports noted that the transparency server was able to transmit data on May 13, 6:15 p.m., before turning silent, with results from only 0.4% of clustered precincts nationwide. It was already 1:19 a.m. of May 14 when the server was able to transmit data to media bodies and poll watchdogs again.
GMA News took to Twitter a developing story about yet another baffling issue with the election returns from the COMELEC's transparency server. At 5:20 a.m., 92.89% of the results were reportedly recorded and trasmitted by the server, but at 5:50 a.m., the transmitted results suddenly dipped back to 49.76%.
"Nagka-java error," Commissioner Marlon Casquejo explained when GMA News reached out to the COMELEC, noting that they were fixing it and that it shouldn't be cause of worry. At 7:11 a.m., the figures were reverted back to the 5:20 a.m. update.
As of 11:26 a.m., the partial results show Cynthia Villar leading the senatorial race, with Grace Poe coming in second, and Bong Go at third. Pia Cayetano, Bato Dela Rosa, Sonny Angara, Lito Lapid, Imee Marcos, Francis Tolentino, Bong Revilla, Koko Pimentel, and Nancy Binay also made it to the top 12.
When the partial results came out, Google Trends is said to have recorded a surge in searches for "migrate" and "migrating."
"The sheer magnitude of the spike and the fact that the increased search volume occurred specifically in the hours following the release of the preliminary election results make it likely that there was a causal relationship between the election results and increased Philippine search terms relating to migrating abroad," Isaac Reyes of DataSeer said to ABS-CBN News.