Poll watchdog wants random order for list of candidates' names in 2022 ballots

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(FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 31) – A poll watchdog has proposed a change the layout of the ballots to be used in the May 2022 elections.

The National Citizens' Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) put forward a five-point reform proposal on Tuesday, which includes asking the Commission on Elections to stop listing the names of candidates in alphabetical order.

Instead, politicians will draw lots to get a number that will determine their slot on the list of candidates per position similar to what was done for party-list groups in 2019.

"Dahil naka-focus ang kampanya sa mga numero at hindi sa mga pangalan lamang, sa palagay ng Namfrel ay mababawasan din nito ang personality politics sa Philippines," Namfrel secretary general Eric Alvia said in a briefing. "Mababawasan ang pagdepende ng kampanya sa sikat na apelyido lamang sa darating na eleksyon."

[Translation: Because the campaign is focused on a number and not just on a candidate's name, Namfrel believes this will reduce personality politics in the Philippines. Campaigns will depend less on the popularity of a surname for the upcoming election.]

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The group added that this will also be easier for voters, especially for those who cannot read, and will level the playing field among surnames. Numbering will be continuous for the entire ballot, which Namfrel said should be a hint for voters to check the back page for party-list nominees.

Transparency

Namfrel also called for the use of digital signatures to protect the integrity of vote canvassing.

The group said the technology is available through the Department of Information and Communications Technology. If the digital signatures match, this meant that votes counted by the machine have not been tampered with when it is sent to the board of canvassers.

This would dispel doubts about the results even if there are delays in transmission, like when the so-called seven-hour glitch happened in 2019. This will already be used in the May 9 polls, Namfrel national council member Fernando Contreras, Jr. added.

They also called for a shift to using open-source software for automated elections for better scrutiny of the codes, printing QR codes on election returns, and releasing precinct data using election mark-up language (EML) rather than comma-separated values (CSV) files to transparency servers.

LIST: Some things to expect in 2022 election-related activities

'Independence'

On the selection of three new members of the Comelec en banc, Alvia said the public will want to see candidates who will "satisfy the criteria of independence" given that they oversee the conduct of elections.

Chairman Sheriff Abas, along with Commissioners Rowena Guanzon and Antonio Kho, Jr., will leave the poll body in February barely three months before voting day. By May 9, all seven seats will be filled with appointees of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Duterte has said he will seek the vice presidency in 2022 but his party has not yet named the standard bearer.