At the Philippine Internatioal Convention Center (PICC) where the canvassing of votes are being held, old yellow ballot boxes are trying to outshine the rising Precint Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines.
But Friday’s session by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) officials sitting as members of the National Board of Canvassers proved that it was in vain. Contents of the ballot boxes (which are Certificates of Canvass or COCs in this case) contained concrete discrepancies.
To make things worse, the whole canvassing process, which is the next leg of the elections, seemed to be using shortcuts (unlike the naturally speedy counting of votes using automated machines).
Poll officials canvassed the whole day votes cast for senatorial and partylist bets by overseas absentee voters, opening one padlocked ballot box after another. Votes canvassed were from Canada, Belguim, France, Japan and South Korea.
The board cut short the canvassing of votes from Jordan after noticing a discrepancy: Alliance of Bicolnon Party (ABP, #35) was printed again at number 80, a spot supposedly for Alliance of Mindanao Elders (AME).
The session went into a break after spotting the discrepancy to countercheck the election returns from Jordan. The board of canvassers then ruled out that votes corresponding number 80 should be for AME, not for ABP.
Only consolidated canvass reports
Unlike in previous elections wherein provincial COCs are read and bared to the public, this year’s elections apparently left out the grueling process.
Since the Comelec started canvassing votes last May 12, only COCs from the Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) were publicly audited by the poll body. As for the provinces, only the progress of transmission in terms of percentage were being announced by the board of canvassers. The rest of the information were circulated only among poll officials and computers.
And instead of reading aloud the votes for senators and partylist groups per province or city, the Comelec just furnished poll watchers and legal counsels of candidates with two national canvass reports (which contain totaled votes at the national level).
The latest national canvass report was released at 7:04 p.m. yesterday with 92 out of total 274 COCs canvassed.
What about rejected ballots?
Senatorial bet Vicente “Tito” Sotto III’s legal adviser, Atty. Hector Villacorta, raised before the board of canvassers an intriguing detail in the national canvass report: the number of voters who “actually voted” is exactly the same as the total valid ballots counted.
In the latest canvass report, “No. of Voters Actually Voted” stand at 33,544,718, while the “Total Valid Ballots Counted” is also at 33,544,718.