Survey: 9 in 10 Filipinos see May 9 election results as credible, want automated system for future polls

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 18) — A big majority of Filipinos trusted the conduct and results of the May 9 elections, according to a Pulse Asia survey.

Think tank Stratbase ADR Institute commissioned the survey, which was conducted on June 24-27 with 1,200 respondents.

The survey showed that two-thirds of Filipino adults believe that the 2022 elections were "more credible now" compared to the presidential polls in 2016, while 18% said these wer "as credible as before." Only 6% said the election results were less credible this year.

The pollster recorded positive sentiment across locations and socioeconomic classes. People in Mindanao recorded the highest credibility rating at 78%, followed by Metro Manila (77%), Visayas (67%), and the rest of Luzon (59%).

For those under socioeconomic class ABC, 65% found the elections more credible now against 11% who said it was less credible, a trend maintained across classes D (68% more credible, 5% less credible), and E (62% more credible, 6% less credible).

"Filipinos generally feel that cheating is less pervasive in the 2022 elections. The vote count was faster and the results remain credible," Pulse Asia president Ronald Holmes said in a Monday post-elections assessment forum.

"The level of trust is still significant. Majority trust the results of the elections that they are accurate and thereby credible," he added.

The survey tallied 82% of Filipinos with "big trust" in the outcome of the elections, which was highest in Mindanao at 96% and lowest in the rest of Luzon (excluding Metro Manila) at 73%.

Some 4% of respondents said they had little to no trust in the poll results, while 14% answered that they could not say if they have big or small trust in the elections.

'Less cheating'

The same survey also reported that 39% of Filipinos believe the 2022 polls involved "less cheating" compared to 2016, while 16% said the level was "same as before with little cheating."

Only 5% of voters said there were more cheating incidents this year, while one-third of voters could not say if there were more or fewer cheating cases.

May 9 saw a record number of 55.5 million Filipinos who cast their ballots. It led to the landslide victories of President Bongbong Marcos and Vice President Sara Duterte.

The same survey showed 41% of respondents found the elections to be highly divisive, against a third who said they were undecided. Another 41% found "influential media practitioners" covered the campaigns all the way to vote counting fairly, against 32% who said otherwise.

Another 41% said they found public discussions of key issues and candidates' platforms to be substantive, against 28% who said it was lacking.

READ: Comelec refutes intl report: 2022 elections most peaceful, highest turnout ever

Automated polls

The Pulse Asia survey showed 95% of voters said they found the vote counting machines (VCMs) easy to use, against 1% who encountered problems in feeding their ballot. The same machines have been in use since the 2016 elections.

The survey group noted a general acceptance of the automated election system despite reports of some voters waiting in line for hours as the machines broke down on voting day.

"We find here that nine out of 10 Filipinos are satisfied with the vote counting machines, significantly higher in Mindanao, [where] you have 99% expressing satisfaction with the vote counting machines," Holmes added.

There were 1,310 VCMs that were replaced out of 107,345 units deployed on May 9.

Still, there was wide preference to keep using automated voting systems in the future. Interest is the highest in Mindanao at 97%, followed by Visayas (95%), Metro Manila (94%), and the rest of Luzon (82%).

There was wide acceptance across economic classes as well, ranging from 87-92% for classes ABC, D, and E.

In the same forum, Commission on Elections (Comelec) officials acknowledged that there were incidents of faulty VCMs and secure digital or SD cards, but insisted that accuracy was not sacrificed.

"The random manual audit of votes matched 99.95% of the election returns in 746 randomly-selected ballot boxes... This figure effectively negates prevalent suspicions that the automated election system is flawed and susceptible to cheating," acting Comelec chairman Socorro Inting said.

The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting added that they did not see any hints of dagdag-bawas or vote-padding. She also noted that observed "block vote" areas, where some candidates recorded zero votes in select precincts, were miniscule and could not have changed the overall results.

Comelec acting spokesperson Rex Laudiangco said the poll body is now eyeing new automated election systems in the market, which is under assessment until early August.

"I am not in any way prematurely deciding or influencing the policy direction of the Commission en banc. I think everyone will agree to a meticulous discussion and review about the propriety of using these VCMs for future elections," Inting added.

Commissioner Marlon Casquejo earlier said he wants to phase out the VCMs and acquire new machines for the 2025 polls.

READ: Comelec exec 'sorry' to voters affected by delays, VCM glitches