Electing student council officers in 30 seconds

Jan. 25, 2012

The recent student council elections at the Ateneo de Davao University was a record-breaker, being the first automated elections among Mindanao schools.

Davao Today

AUTOMATED ELECTIONS Ateneo de Davao university

AUTOMATED ELECTIONS. Ateneo de Davao students not only get to see the pictures of the candidates, they get to vote them with just one click, during the first-ever automated elections in a Mindanao university. (photo courtesy of the Samahan Creative Team)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — It started as an undergraduate thesis idea. It ended as a history.

Computer Studies Division students at the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Davao University Paolo Villanueva, Nitish Khemani and Alfred Jett Grandeza thought they could tinker with the computer and offer a computerized method of voting. Last week, students held an automated election for the student council, and elected into office a young feminist activist as president.

The recent student council elections in AdDU was a record-breaker being the first ever automated elections among Mindanao schools.

“It was never this easy before,” Almira Jane Villegas, one of the associate commissioners of the ADDU Commission on Elections (Comelec), said. “From voting to canvassing, everything was quick and efficient,” she added.

Maureene Ann Villamor, a senior AB Psychology student and Davao City Gabriela Youth spokesperson not only won over two other candidates; she also overcame the red scare rumors that spread days before the elections. Text messages and leaflets circulated, tagging the soft-spoken but fiery politician as a communist, same as with Mao Zedong, China’s communist leader.

“Binansagan nila tayong Komunista dahil tayo lang ang may malinaw na plataporma,” (They called me a communist because of my concrete platforms) a smiling Villamor said.

“Pero, hindi naman sila nagtagumpay dahil nanaig pa rin ang boses ng mga estudyante. Ang pinaka-core naman po ng ating plataporma ay ang pagkakaroon ng genuine student consultation sa lahat ng mga policies involving the students as stakeholders. Most importantly, isinusulong po natin and mas malawak na social involvement ng mga Atenista bilang mga binansagang ‘men and women for others’,” Villamor explained. (But they did not succeed because the students’ voice overpowered them. The core of our platform is to have genuine student consultation in all policies involving the students as stakeholders. Most importantly, we are pushing for a wider social involvement of the Ateneans being ‘men and women for others’)

Voting in 30 seconds

On January 19, the polling precinct opened at around 8 AM. The first to cast her vote was Jenny Mae Saldana, a third year Management Accounting student. Her ID barcode was read by a scanner. The computer screen opened with the thumbnail photos and names of the candidates for various electoral posts. Beside each name was a button where the voters are asked to click. An “abstain” button was also provided for every position. When Saldana was done clicking the buttons corresponding to her chosen candidates, she pressed the submit button. A dialogue box popped out asking whether she is sure to have her votes casted or not. She then clicked the YES button. The whole process took Saldana around 30 seconds to accomplish.

“While the idea of voting in an automated election enticed me, I did not vote just because the process is new. It was my obligation to be involved and to have my voice heard,” Saldana said.

Lena Jan Billena, fourth year Accountancy student, had similar thoughts. “For me, voting is being part of the change. And Ateneo is our school. We’re part of it as stakeholders. So we need to convey our message as to what we want for the school,” she said.

The buzz about the automated elections has upped voter turn-out, at 67.29 percent, the highest in recent years.

Jeneva Humangit, chairperson of the AdDU Comelec said, “Aside from the automation, naging successful din ang elections dahil maayos din ang information dissemination na isinagawa. Very efficient ang buong process.” (Aside from the automation, the election was successful because of the proper information dissemination. The whole process was very efficient)

Villamor adds, “Highest credits should go to the students themselves. Sila ang tunay na nagpanalo at nanalo.” (They are the real winners) (Paul Randy P. Gumanao/davaotoday.com)

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