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Our candidates, the automated polls, and our elders
by Ernesto Balbines

The new technology that we used during the 2010 elections and we will use again this year has been, and is a welcome development.

At least, it gave us a fresh start and a break from the very long wait we used to endure when our voting system was done manually. That snail-paced process is now a thing of the past.

Elections gives each of us an opportunity to choose the people whom we want to lead us. When we say leaders, we mean those who will guide us to the path towards an improved quality of life.

Having this exercise is part of our democracy and it is a necessary attribute of the freedom and right accorded by the Constitution to the people.

Elections as a decision-making process that traces its roots to ancient Greece and Rome and used to serve as the main mechanism for choosing emperors and other important figures in history.

What political aspirants do to get the people’s nod

As election day nears, candidates are busy roaming and shaking hands with their constituents. They wear their sweetest smiles in the bid that these will help them win the heart of the people who will eventually put them into power.

For someone who has been voting for the past several years, the tactics employed by those aspiring for positions in government is no longer new.

They make promises even when sometimes, these seem to be impossible to attain and can only be accomplished by Agent 007 in James Bond movies.

But the saddest part is, after they have earned the votes of the people and they get the position they want, our politicians seem to suffer from amnesia. They forget about their promises. They forget about us.

Well, that’s politics! As Nikita Khrushchev said: “Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river.” Politicians make promises only to break them when they are voted upon. Maybe some will fulfill what they said during the campaign season. But majority will forget.

But why would a person want to be a politician? Why would one want to attend to several concerns and assume responsibilities aside from his or her personal problems? If we try to analyze what Prime Minister Winston Churchill of UK said that “In war, you’ll only be killed once. In politics, many times,” we could not fathom why people are willing to spend large amount of money or willing to be criticized by the public just so they could win. It is given that in politics, no matter what good things you do, you are still bad in the eyes of the people.

Well, let us give the politicians the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they are born humanitarians and want to serve the people or chart their niche in history.

But be wary

It is true that the candidates reach out to us during the campaign season. But that does not mean all of them want to know our concerns so they could address these. Let us discern their real intentions.

It is a pity that we are only known to our politicians during the campaign season. They completely forget that we exist after the elections.

Let us not be swayed by their sweet smiles and promises. More importantly, let us not submit to their intimidation and other corrupt practices.

Since we are the ones who have the ultimate power in placing politicians into public office, let us not allow our votes to be paid for. Corruption starts if we, the people, sell our votes.

Let us choose based on our conscience. That is, voting for the candidate who is qualified to hold public office and not the candidate who bought our votes.

Also, our candidates should change their campaign style. They should campaign together regardless of the political party they belong to. The move of some politicians in holding rallies together has been recorded as one of the best practices in election campaigns.

One advantage of campaigning together is that mudslinging are avoided, thereby minimizing violence.

PCOS machines and the elders

With the use of the Precinct Count Optical Scan machines, we are optimistic that the fraud committed during voting and counting in the manual system is minimized.

During the first holding of the automated elections, we witnessed how quickly our votes were counted and transmitted and how fast our new leaders were proclaimed.

This is why we appreciate and welcome this new technology, although some of our elders are apprehensive of it.

Those who did not get the chance to vote three years ago should not be afraid because they are not the ones who will operate the PCOS machines. What they will merely do is shade the ballots.

I can say the technology is elder-friendly. We cannot recall our elders complaining about it in 2010.

Those who accompany or assist the elders when they cast their votes should see to it that the ovals are properly shaded. The votes will be nullified if we do not assist our elders and help them come up with clean ballots, those that will be accepted by the PCOS machines.

Of course, their choices should be respected and they should not be dictated upon. Assisting the senior citizens when they vote does not give someone the license to dictate who the elder should vote for. Let us allow them the freedom to choose as this reflects the spirit of real democracy.

Our elders should not fear the use of the PCOS machines because this is not a complicated technology. One more, there are several volunteers, including their relatives, who can assist them.

Whatever will be the results of the election, I hope the losers will concede and congratulate the winners, instead of complaining and making accusations that they cannot even prove.

I hope they will not say the usual statement uttered by losing candidates: “Sinaurdak gamin!”

They should respect the choice of the people.
Other news
:: Boto ko, ipagtanggol ko. Advocating for a Champ
:: What the public should realize in choosing their leaders
:: Epal ka ba? Of papers and elections
:: Politicos, then and now
:: Search for the
green–minded politico
:: IT connection: Ensuring speed for Ecs to solve power cuts during polls
:: Local Politics in the era of automated elections
:: Automated Elections:
How a young blood sees it
:: Electronic voting part 2: Are there loopholes to be guarded?
:: Is Political dynasty the same as political destiny?
:: Mission: To impress or to depress?
:: Travails along the campaign trail… And beyond

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