Operation Quick Count, which has become synonymous with poll watchdog National Citizen’s Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel), will be sorely missed in the 2010 national elections.
Namfrel has decided to forego a quick count operation next year in view of the expected automation of the election process.
“There is no more quick count. But we will still conduct a parallel tally for audit purposes,” Damaso Magbual, who sits in the Namfrel executive committee, told abs-cbnnews.com/Newsbreak.
The boards of Namfrel and the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) met Thursday to discuss the roles of each poll watchdog in the elections. The two watchdogs recently merged and named former Ambassador to the Vatican Henrietta de Villa as chair.
It was agreed during the meeting that Namfrel will deal mostly with technical matters in the election system such as the bidding process, training of volunteers for the automated polls and auditing of the results. The PPCRV, on the other hand, will handle voter education and information.
Poll watching and voter assistance will be jointly handled by Namfrel and PPCRV volunteers.
Namfrel-PPCRV will file this month for accreditation as citizen’s arm in the May 2010 polls.
Under the law, one copy of the election returns (ER) will have to be provided to the accredited citizen’s arm. Copies of the election returns from the precinct level have served as bases for the election quick count of Namfrel in past electoral exercises.
But with the automated polls, where machines perform the counting and tallying of votes and the results readily received by Comelec, a quick count operation will no longer be necessary.
But Namfrel will still conduct its own parallel count using its ER copies, as a post-validation process.
Magbual said this is necessary to uncover discrepancies, if any, in the results of the local and national elections.
The ER copies of Namfrel have proven to be crucial in thwarting last-minute attempts to rig the results, especially in local races.
But at the national level, the integrity of Namfrel’s quick count operation suffered, especially during the 2004 presidential race. In its quick count, President Arroyo won by a small margin, amid allegations that it failed to take into account some areas where Arroyo’s rival, the late Fernando Poe Jr., won.
The quick count operation was also criticized for alleged trending in favor of particular candidates.