The winner in voter-receipt controversy
After so much ado, the Supreme Court has finally ruled that the Commission on Elections must issue voter receipts on May 9. A Solomonic decision, methinks it is!
For some background, this issue began after former senator Richard Gordon petitioned the high tribunal to require the Comelec to issue voter receipts in the coming elections, pursuant to the VVPAT (voter-verified paper audit trail) requirement of Republic Act No. 9369, the law on the automated election system that had Gordon as its principal author in the Senate. Even as this matter has become highly controversial because there was clearly nothing in the law that expressly mandates the issuance of voter receipts per se, the Supreme Court outright swallowed Gordon’s petition hook, line and sinker—a decision that according to Gordon was a “victory for the people, a victory for democracy and a victory for clean elections.”
Nonetheless, the Comelec eventually filed a motion for reconsideration citing, through a time-and-motion study and a demonstration of the actual operation of the vote-counting machines, the enormous tasks and huge time line disruptions it must contend with—not excluding the sure lengthening of the May 9 precinct voting hours, maybe up to midnight—to be able to comply with the Court’s order. Apparently sympathizing with the poll body’s predicament during the ensuing oral arguments and yet not wanting to overturn its earlier ruling that had totally favored Gordon, the high court finally required/allowed the poll body to provide each voter with a simple receipt, just enough to reflect the names of his chosen candidates. An otherwise full receipt would include the ID number of the voter’s ballot, precinct number and a hash code which is the digital signature of the vote-counting machine, among other information.
These are the features that are of vital help in auditing the poll results. To which final/revised ruling, Gordon, utterly dismayed, said: “Such simple receipts would be nothing but useless scraps of paper…” or something to that effect. Alas, aren’t the simple receipts merely “consuelo de bobo”?
In the oft-recounted biblical story of two mothers both claiming for biological parentage of a child, we are told who clearly won and brought the child home: the one who would rather give up the child to the other than see the child split in two between them.
In the recently resolved voter-receipt controversy, I wonder who would really win: the Comelec, Gordon or the people? On top of that, I doubt very much that the Sereno Court has even a wee bit duplicated the wisdom of King Solomon.
—RUDY L. CORONEL, rudycoronel [email protected]
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