The implementation of a hi-tech machine for voting at this year’s national elections has not been spared from scrutiny (much like its manual predecessor) as some people claim that the Compact Flash cards or CF cards contained in PCOS machines have been rigged to generate inaccurate results in favor of dishonest candidates wanting to beat their rivals and secure their place in Malacañang Palace.

This made me think of reality game shows and how easy it is for people to cast their votes just by texting. I’m not sure if this is even feasible, but, for the sake of argument, why not use this same method (that we made popular) in the succeeding elections? Results from this type of voting appear more credible and are generally accepted, anyway. Our local telcos have already harnessed the capabilities of Short Messaging Service such as delivering promos and advertisements, sending out news, exchanging correspondence, joining contests, and just about anything we weren’t able to do in a breeze, before texting hit it big in the inception of the new millennium in the Philippines. It’s not far-fetched to think that SMS can be used for voting as well, since it has been going on already. The main stumbling block is polishing the system so that it would work the way it’s supposed to.

Now here’s how I think this would work (of course, not everything will pan out, as of this writing):

  • SIM cards before that cost almost P1,000 are now pretty much cheap. The reason why I mentioned this is because, at the current price of these chips, it should no longer be a burden for the regular folks to obtain; if cell phones are the problem, one should not fret since he can borrow one. Telcos could just charge a minimal fee for the SIM cards and we could then register it for free.
  • Us regular citizens could avail of the, let’s say, Voter’s SIM card that would be issued and released through COMELEC upon successful registration, which will be exclusively used for casting their votes at the elections. Those cards which hold the cellular phone number of the balloter would be tied to just one individual; in short, one registered voter for one card.
  • Programming could be done by the telecommunications companies.
  • COMELEC’s role would be to verify the names and phone numbers of the voting public, considering they would have collected data of the number of registered voters and their assigned SIM card and phone number (preventing unknown or ‘ghost’ phone number entries), and monitor and ascertain the validity of the incoming votes from text messages.
  • Following the same trend majority of the companies use to make people enter and participate in their contests thru text, one could limit as to how many entries can be sent for each vacant position. Obviously, if one has already entered his bet for president, his entry is already final and can only be counted once, making sure that additional or identical entries are made void.

To make it easier, the format can be displayed using this example:

01 Presidentiable #1
02 Presidentiable #2
03 Presidentiable #3
04 Presidentiable #4
05 Presidentiable #5
06 Presidentiable #6
07 Presidentiable #7
08 Presidentiable #8
09 Presidentiable #9
10 Presidentiable #10
11 Presidentiable #11
12 Presidentiable #12
13 Presidentiable #13

If voting for just one candidate, we just need to type in the number.
-type ‘08‘ and send it to a special number provided by the telcos.

01 Senatoriable #1
02 Senatoriable #2
03 Senatoriable #3
04 Senatoriable #4
05 Senatoriable #5
06 Senatoriable #6
07 Senatoriable #7
08 Senatoriable #8
09 Senatoriable #9
10 Senatoriable #10
11 Senatoriable #11
12 Senatoriable #12
13 Senatoriable #13
14 Senatoriable #14
15 Senatoriable #15
16 Senatoriable #16
17 Senatoriable #17
18 Senatoriable #18
19 Senatoriable #19
20 Senatoriable #20
21 Senatoriable #21
22 Senatoriable #22
23 Senatoriable #23
24 Senatoriable #24
25 Senatoriable #25
26 Senatoriable #26
27 Senatoriable #27
28 Senatoriable #28
29 Senatoriable #29
30 Senatoriable #30

If list calls for more than one candidate to be selected (example: 12 senators), type the 12 numbers, each separated by a comma and space.
-type ‘01′, ‘05‘, ‘06‘, ‘10‘, ‘11‘, ‘15‘, ‘17‘, ‘18‘, ‘19‘, ‘21‘, ‘27‘, ‘29‘ and send it to a special number provided by the telcos.

The vote caster just needs to type in the number corresponding to the name/s of the candidate/s of their choice that appears in the text message. This format can be used throughout all incoming messages bearing the names of the candidates and the positions they are vying for. Each text should be free of charge though, since it is the election.

Having said all these, if one day this is made possible and all the kinks have been ironed out, then we would have lessened the problems our country faces each election period. There would be no more hassles—no more queuing in long serpentine lines, no more of those nasty indelible ink marks, and, best of all, no more worrying that the shaded portions of your ballot might go outside the ‘ovate circle.’ So, how’s that sound?


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