The Palau Election Commission (PEC) on Friday said that the use of the new technology to tabulate the Nov. 3 general election votes will be more “effective and accurate” and further maintain the secrecy of ballots.
The Commission said this following a letter from Gustav Aitaro Office Manager of the Surangel Whipps Jr. camp to continue to process each hamlet box individually for Koror and Airai.
With the new digital counting machine, the commission will now be tabulating
on a state level, Central and Proper boxes will not be counted separately, including hamlets of Koror and Airai States.
The new counting machine will eliminate hamlet breakdown and instead results will be announced per overall State turnout.
However, Mr. Aitaro asked the Commission to continue to process each hamlet box individually for Koror and Airai.
“If the Election Commission consolidates both Koror and Airai state ballots, the candidates will lose the ability to scrutinize any questionable ballot for each hamlet, which means, if there was an issue, such a need for a recount for a particular hamlet for Koror and Airai, it will be virtually impossible to know which ballots are from what hamlet because all of them have been consolidated as ballots for one state.”
Mr. Aitaro further added that the old process increases transparency and will make it easier for the commission to address issues.
But in the PEC Board of Directors response, the commission said it will go ahead with the new process but assured Whipps camp that each hamlet ballot box will still be tallied through the machine, that way the Commission can verify with the signature lists and also get the total votes cast for each hamlet.
The commission also explained that the total votes cast and total number of registered voters in each hamlet will still be announced so poll watchers can verify from their data.
The Commission added that Whipps’ camp’s request “appears to be based on some misunderstanding” and the digital technology will only provide a slight difference from the old process.
The body also stressed that the Commission , under the law , “has the discretion over the procedure for election.”
The digital technology will also ensure that voters vote freely and will be less intimidated since it will ensure ballots secrecy.
Presidential candidate Whipps Jr. said he supports digital technology.
“We support technology and what we are proposing is a transparent way to count using technology,” he said via a text message.
“Technology is only the machine that counts, it’s the whole process of collection sorting and preparing them to be counted that must be as transparent as possible to ensure integrity,” he added.