MANILA -- A poll watchdog on Saturday called on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to provide a mechanism on how voters can manually verify their votes on Election Day.

The Compact for Peaceful and Democratic Elections (Compact), a wide network of non-government organizations and social movements against electoral cheating and violence said the lack of validation is similar to an “electronic transaction that has no acknowledgment.”

"Come election time, many voters will want something that they can see and touch in order to confirm that their votes have been cast exactly as intended. Persons who use ATM (automated teller machine), credit cards even those who play the lotto get a receipt. Why can’t voters get something similar? Ano ito, meron sa Lotto pero wala sa boto," Compact Co-Convener Rodolfo "Jun" Lozada Jr. said.

Lozada said a verification mechanism is available to the Precinct Counting Optical Scan (PCOS), the counting machine that will be used in the automated polls this May. However, he said the verification screen which should validate how a voter cast his vote was “disabled.”

Lozada said the Comelec “disabled” it to save time during the voting process and to prevent voter intimidation and selling but only “a few people knew this.”

“The idea behind verification is not only to appease a generally apprehensive voting public needing some sort of validation but also to open the system to public scrutiny,” he said.

The information technology expert meanwhile said while the poll body’s apprehension is “valid”, people should not be deprived the right to validate their votes.

"As such, Comelec should activate the verification mechanism of the PCOS machine and provide people with receipts," he said.

Lozada proposed that to vote selling and intimidation, voters can destroy their receipts inside the precincts after the verification.

"A simple allocation of garbage cans to put all destroyed receipts under strict supervision would suffice," he said.(Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)