Tell it to SunStar: Voting system reform

THE new Commission on elections (Comelec) chief, Jeriff Abas, is an insider. That can be a bane or a boon. A bane if he just continues the way elections have been organized in the past. A boon if he is appalled by all the notorious abuses and wants to reform the suffrage.

If anybody would complain about the unreliability of the PCOS machines and data transmitters in the Supreme Court, very likely the judges would come to the same result as did the German Federal Constitutional Court in 2009: unconstitutional, because not verifiable by citizens without specialist knowledge. Since elections are a public affair hidden and occult features as hash codes are incompatible with that public character.

The second point of reform is radical simplification. How can Filipinos study and judge character, competence, track record, sincerity, health of five candidates for presidency, five for vice-presidency, 12 for senatorial slots, 59 party-list candidates, several candidates for district representatives, several candidates for governor and vice governor?

Consequently no personality should be allowed to run as an independent man or woman. Even the presidential candidate - or under a federal set-up the prime minister - must run as the top-candidate of a political party. On the ballot under the name of the party is then written his name and below his name figures the name of the VP-candidate. Below those are enumerated the 12 or so names of the “shadow cabinet.”

Further party candidates for parliament representatives have places on a party priority list. With one single stroke on the ballot the voter not only elects the President and VP but also the number of seats for the law makers and top-administrators of that party.

The requirements for screening and accreditation of a political party should be among others: submission of a detailed program for the coming legislature period of four or five years and a long-term program principles, mission and vision statements a list of at least 1,000 inscribed party booklet holders (no oath taking, no balimbing!)

With only 64 million votes to count, hand counting becomes reliable and fast. Transmission of results will reliably be done by smartphone. Any person doubting the numbers of a polling station can recount the ballots within one hour. In the evening of poll Sunday winners and losers will present themselves on TV.

Further reforms would comprise: Limiting the campaign period and enforcing its beginning and end. Enforcing a ban-circle of one kilometer around the poll precincts where no party related persons, insignia, fliers, colors, booths and food stalls are allowed. Financing campaign expenditures from tax money as reward for the parties’ outreaching to promote political knowledge and education to the citizenry. Campaigning exclusively but intensely on TV and the social media instead of disfiguring our streets with name-recalling portraits and misleading placards. Information instead of manipulation: publishing the programs as the base of all poll decisions.--Erich Wannemacher, a German expat for 23 years, residing in Lapu-Lapu- City, former member of Social Democratic Party Germany
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