Quick Look

VoteReportPH will collect reports of voter fraud during the Philippines' first election using automated voting machines.

Beginning Date: 
June 1, 2009
How many unique hits per month?: 
Project Scale: 
Specific Tools: 


On Monday, May 10 the Philippines will hold its 15th presidential election. Only this time it will use automated voting machines for the first time ever in a national election. Many observers note a lack of government willingness to educate voters about the use of automated voting machines in addition to a general lack of transparency around the election, from logistical preparations to how votes will be reported on election day.

A December 2009 survey by PulseAsia of 1,800 Philippine voters found that 61% of respondents had little or no knowledge at all about the automated election system (AES). VoteReportPH, a project of the Computer Professionals' Union, came about to inform and educate Filipino voters, mobilize them to advocate for meaningful reforms to ensure more transparency, and report any voting irregularities on election day.

The project has three main components: Citizen Journalism,Election Monitoring, and Voter Education, VoteReportPH aims help Filipinos make an informed vote, ensure that their votes count, and to raise awareness about the role of citizens in upholding their rights. “Informing citizens about the technical and legal issues, as well as the political context, lends significant contributions to general efforts to make the elections more democratic,” says Rick Bahague, VoteReportPH’s Project Leader.

VoteReportPH uses an Ushahidi-based platform to urge voters to report electoral fraud and irregularities by SMS, email, Twitter, and via the website. The project has gained much online popularity and is attracting around 2,500 unique hits per month, but it stil lacks offline efforts to draw more participation from the grassroots and civil society organizations. A lack of manpower is also challenging for VoteReportPH, which currently relies heavily on volunteers. Political intimidation and a culture of impunity (more than 1000 political activists are victims of extra judicial killings) may also hinder their efforts to attract broad participation.

Rick, however, optimistically and persistently calls upon the public to stay vigilant on election day to ensure that the Philippines holds a credible election that leads to an accountable government. After the election, VoteReportPH will continue to function as a portal to monitor the performance of elected officials, and to advocate for more participatory governance.


What are the biggest obstacles to your success?: 

- lack of manpower - the project relies heavily on volunteers and CPU generated resources.

- visibility and communication - VoteReportPH is quite popular to the online community critical on the implementation of the Automated Election. But it lacks offline efforts to draw more participants from grassroots organizations

How do you plan on overcoming those obstacles?: 

Our lack of manpower is slowly being address by a growing number of volunteers. The project needs a dedicated staff. We have been networking with various organizations to popularize the project.

What problem is your project aiming to overcome?: 

Vote Report Philippines (VoteReportPH) is a grassroots-based electoral campaign that aims to inform, organize and mobilize Filipino people to push for meaningful reforms in the 2010 automated polls with the aid of new media technology. It seeks to orient the masses in the nature of Philippine elections in the context of electronic voting, to monitor and document occurrences of electoral fraud and other problems related to the Automated Election System (AES), and promote candidates and parties that subscribe to politics of change as an alternative to traditional politics.

VoteReportPH is an initiative of the Computer Professionals' Union (CPU). CPU is a volunteer organization of computer professionals in the country. Its members are united in advancing information and communications technology for the people.

VoteReportPH expected outcomes:

▪ VoteReportPH serves as a means of giving voters an informed vote, a tool to protect their votes, and a platform to raise their level of awareness and discourse (as well as participation) on the role of citizens in upholding our rights. Informing citizens on the technical and legal issues, as well as its political context, has significant contributions to general efforts to make the elections more democratic.

▪ The monitoring and documenting of cases of error and fraud will provide data that can serve as a concrete basis for the development of future AES implementations, be it in the legal or technical arena.

What are the roots of that problem?: 

Problems and controversies continue to sprout as the Philippines enter uncharted waters in its foray into its first ever automated elections this 2010. The lack of government efforts in educating voters is apparent in a Dec. 4 Pulse Asia survey indicating 61% of the voting population having little or no knowledge at all about the automated election system (AES). Watchdog groups or anyone interested in guarding and ensuring a democratic election face a wall of lack in transparency, from the logistical preparations monopolized by Smartmatic-TIM, up to the transmission of votes on election day itself. Already taking flak for its hasty implementation of the AES and its track record of mercenary transactions, the Commission
on Elections (COMELEC) has done little to alleviate its drought in credibility.

Efforts to empower the Filipino people with information, as well as mobilizing them to lobby for a safer and more transparent implementation of the AES and to go out and protect their votes must be put in place. With the advent of New Media, or information and communication technologies (ICTs) with networking and interactive characteristics, people now have a potential tool that will help in these democratic endeavors.

The global trend of democratization insofar as accessibility to modern technology goes has rapidly grown, which has made the communication of information more and more decentralized from giant outfits. Gone are the days when information and knowledge could only come from legacy media and the academe. New Media, has transformed every receiver of information into content providers themselves. These ICTs, such as the internet and mobile SMS, continue to enjoy growing penetration rates: according to the 2009 Yahoo-Nielsen Net Index, the overall internet reach in National Urban Philippines increased from 20.8% in the first quarter to 28% by the end of 2008. Mobile penetration rates, meanwhile, have reached 75% of the total population by the end of 2008, according to wireless industry research conglomerate Wireless Federation. New Media’s interactive and networking characteristics also make it easy to be integrated in traditional communication approaches, enabling it to reach even non-users of New Media.

It is under these perspectives that we conclude New Media as an effective multi-purpose tool in pursuing reforms in the electoral experience of the Philippines, particularly in educating voters in the political and technical concerns of the AES, monitoring fraud and documenting problems on election day, and providing technical service for progressive politicians and parties as a means of combating traditional politics.

Why did you personally become involved in this project?: 

Since February 2009, CPU has monitored the preparation and implementation of the AES. The group has engaged the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to implement relevant safeguards in the AES. CPU has also joined other civil society groups through AES Watch to pressure the agency to ensure implementation of AES safeguards.

Unfortunately, the COMELEC seems to disregard the group's proposals. VoteReportPH is a CPU's initiative to engage and involve the people to act on the possible frauds and terrorism
in the election.

Are you providing unofficial channels of information that should be provided by the government?: 

VoteReportPH has the following components which are not provided by the government.

◦ Citizen journalism
VoteReportPH also collaborates with various groups and organizations on election-related citizen journalism, providing training in the use of new media such as social networking sites, blogs, mobile technology, etc. to promote their advocacy as platforms in the elections, and to mobilize them in citizen-driven electoral reporting on election day itself.

◦ Election Monitoring
Specialized training for election monitoring in the AES setting are conducted for pollwatchers, adjusted to the tactical differences between manual and electronic voting. VoteReportPH also implements a web-based fraud and error monitoring tool using the crowdsourcing platform Ushahidi (crowdsourcing is a means of delegating a complex task to a “crowd” of volunteers), where volunteers from precincts nationwide will report
in real-time all documented cases of fraud and technical errors to the website, where their reports will already be visualized.

◦ Voter Education
VoteReportPH provides voters’ education discussions and fora upon request by network organizations and institutions. CPU provides Trainings of Trainors (ToTs) to VoteReportPH volunteers to equip them with political and technical knowledge on:
▪ the nature of Philippine elections
▪ the partylist system
▪ the platform of a politics of change
▪ how the AES works
▪ AES vulnerabilities and safeguard

Why is the government not providing the information?: 

The main agency that is responsible for upcoming election including the preparation and everything related to election is rushing and trying to meet deadlines. Technically, it is difficult for them to have a properly implemented on the automated election. There is already a survey indicating that the commission is lacking in educating to people about the election. For example the survey shows 61% of the voting population having little or no knowledge at all about the automated election system (AES).

Is there a freedom of information law in the country where this project is based?: 
How does the information published on your website turn into offline change?: 

VoteReportPH website has already resulted on the following:

▪ involvement of computer professionals as volunteers in developing a monitoring system for the actual day of election.
▪ In general, the website has informed and motivated voters to be more critical on the implementation of the AES.

What is an example of how information on your website has led to a concrete change?: 

◦ Voter educations in five regions: National Capital Region, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Southern Tagalog, and Southern Mindanao. These sessions have educated at least 2,000 voters with or no knowledge about the AES.
◦ invitations from various communities including peasants, workers, professionals and students for at least 20 voter's education session as resource speakers which helped in the education of these sectors.
◦ the website is the main channel for request regarding voter's education and information session on the AES.
◦ invitations for traditional media interviews.

How many people work on your project?: 
How many hours a week do you personally spend on the project?: 

I personally spend about 2 hours every day to monitor updates and post contents on the site.

How many hours does the whole team spend on the project?: 

Currently, the project has one (1) project coordinator (Rick Bahague). CPU volunteers contributes content to website. CPU research and education team (5 individuals) serves as the core of speakers for voter educations.

◦ VoterReportPH continues to recruit volunteers to serve as trainers, resource speakers on the technical aspects of AES, citizen reporters and poll watchers during election day.

◦ CPU team developed the voter education kit last November 2009. It is now being used by network organizations. Different voter education materials are also uploaded from volunteer contributions. The team spends an average of three days in a week to respond to requests.

What are the most time consuming tasks?: 

◦ Responding to invitations for voter education and election monitoring trainings are the most time consuming but are the most important tasks of the team.

◦ Sorting and verifying online and SMS (short message system) reports are slowly eating up the time of the team. We expect these to peak up as the election day approaches.

How do you extract value from large amounts of data? How do you build engagement around it?: 

◦ Fraud and terrorism related to the coming elections are compiled by VoteRepotPH. Ushahidi is the main platform for reporting. It is an excellent tool to handle crowdsource data on the elections.

◦ CP-Union issues statements and bulletins to the media on relevant data submitted by volunteers to engage the COMELEC and the people.

How do you verify the identities of participants on your website?: 

Data from registered volunteers and networks are considered approved and verified. Other submissions from other users are tagged as approved.

How do you attract new participants?: 

VoteReportPH's offline voter education sessions are the main source of new participants. Online campaign using twitter and facebook are also utilized.

What has been the most effective method of spreading awareness about your project?: 

While there is also a significant number of participants from online efforts, offline activities are still the most effective method in spreading awareness about VoteReportPH. It now have partnership with non-profit organizations, students, workers unions and computer professionals.

What are your biggest referrers? Where does most of your traffic come from?: 

Google/Yahoo are still the biggest referrers, being search engines. Most visitors are from the Philippines, japan, US and Europe. We assume that visitors from other countries are most probably overseas filipino workers.

Where is your content re-posted? What effect has that had on your project?: 

Some contents and analyses are reposted by network organizations. We encourage reposting to drive more traffic on the site.

Has legal action been taken against your website?: 


What metrics do you use to judge your own success?: 

There are a number of metrics:

- We hope to gather as many volunteers as possible. The more volunteers that submit reports is one way to value our success.
- The number of voter education sessions we are able to organize.
- How is the performance of our portal based on number of unique hits, etc.

What are the incentives to participate in your project?: 

Due to the volunteer nature of the project, we assume that participants view it as a duty as a citizen. They feel responsible to make this current election work to genuinely represent the will of the people.

What skills and expertise would be of assistance to your project?: 

- web developer
- graphic artist
- content/media publicist

How do you plan on financially sustaining your project? : 

CPU is integrating VoteReportPH to its other advocacy work. Later on, this portal will converted to monitor performance of elected officials. Participatory governance will be one of its advocacy. We hope to encourage donors to sustain the project.

What other organizations are you working with?: 

This year, we have worked with the following organizations on various projects.

IboP Asia
Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research Inc.
Community Empowerment Resource Network
◦ Tuburan - Rural Women for Empowerment and Development
Center for Environmental Concerns
Center for People Empowerment in Governance

Have you thought about developing your own tools?: 

CPU supports different grassroots organizations not only during elections.
VoteReportPH is an initiative for the election. We also support human rights and environmental groups Currently, we want to develop new tools for these groups. A human rights documentation tool is envisioned. An environmental crime monitoring tool is also in the planning stage.

Has there been any communication between your project and government officials?: 

During the voter education sessions, a local representative of the Commission on Elections was also present. Reports gathered from volunteers are forwarded to them for action.

Are there any legal obstacles to your work? Any laws that should be changed?: 

Activism in the Philippines is a dangerous field. During the stay of the current administration, more than 1000 activists were victims of extra judicial killings. Unless the pattern of impunity is addressed, activists (online and offline) will always find it difficult to work.

Have there been any attempts to replicate your work elsewhere?: 

It has already been replicated by for the worker's sector. VoteReportPH's experience will also be replicated and applied to human rights advocacy and environmental crimes monitoring.

What other projects in your region should we know about?: 

CPU's AOM2.0 is also noteworthy to mention. It is an annual information activism workshop and sharing of grassroots organizations in the country.

If someone gave you $30,000 how would you use the money?: 

▪ Another nationwide training on using digital activism tools for grassrooots advocacy.
▪ Project People's Web – a grassrooot support project that empowers organizations to have an online presence for their advocacy. It provides trainings on various online tools.
▪ Applications and Systems Project – a system development project that supports organizations in establishing tools for their works. This project has deployed a human rights monitoring and a disaster monitoring database systems to organizations.

What are your plans for 2010 and 2011?: 

For 2010 and 2011, CPU aims to expand its 5 major projects:
- Project People's Web
- Digital Resources Bureau
- Applications and Systems Project
- Free and Open Source Software Trainings
- ICT4P: a technology capacity building project for grassroots organizations and communities

Further Questions

Our message to public:
We want to convey to general public that VoteReportPH is offering the tool for them to monitor the election, to report fraud and terrorism cases that is happening or will happen in their area. Also we want them to be vigilant and involve in upcoming election.

We continually remind the public that election does not start and end when we vote. The people should know who candidate they are voting for, they should vote wisely, and then they should guard and monitor their vote. They should ensure that their vote is properly counted and the result will be a credible one. Although it become difficult for volunteers to monitor due to continual harassment we may encounter, we urge them to be continually vigilant and keep educating people about this automated election which will happen in this coming May 2010.

Is there anything we haven't asked that you would like us to?: 

Lesson-learned sharing to project initiators: It is important that any effort similar to VoteReportPH or others online efforts never forget to link to offline activities. For VoteReportPH, our way of gathering volunteer is through our voting education. We are not only relying on the online activity which not all population are able to access to internet. So it is always important that we link with offline activity where we can meet community and grassroot network to introduce them the new tools. Hopefully, this will urge them to use these tools for their advocacy.


Establishing relationship with Commission on Elections Important

I think that tying voter education to training workshops for the VoteReportPH platform is a very smart tactic. We have seen many instances already of Ushahidi installations meant to crowdsource reports of voting irregularities, but almost never to those projects attract the participation of just a few dedicated volunteers or non-profit staff. VoteReportPH distinguishes itself by investing so much time in organizing workshops to walk citizens through the steps of how to report an instance of voting irregularity. Hopefully each of those trainees will also train their networks of friends and co-workers.

However, in order for this project to truly bring about electoral accountability and a verified electoral process its leaders must meet with leaders from COMELEC, the Philippines Commission on Elections, to develop a published framework for how COMELEC will respond to reports of voting irregularities. There should be a framework made accessible on the website which details how VoteReportPH will verify and investigate reports of voting fraud, intimidation, etc. Then, once VoteReportPH has verified a report, it should be sent to COMELEC for further investigation. But beyond just investigation, COMELEC should agree to a set of processes to how they will respond to reports and what sanctions are in place to ensure that the elections are credible.

Speaking of processes, I would recommend taking a look at how Venezuela's National Election Council ensure voting transparency (despite instances of machine failures) in their 2007 referendum vote.

Great work VoteReportPH! We'll be keeping our eyes on your website during the Philippine election!


About this i can say that Lord (God, Heaven) helps those (them) who help themselves.

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