Vigilant voters protected their ballots even when times got tough

MY friend B (not her real name) waited for around 13 hours on May 9 to feed her ballot into the vote-counting machine (VCM) in her precinct. Her family had to bring her two meals, a snack and lots of drinks (it was a really hot day). She had to use the not-too-clean public toilet but she waited until the VCM worked again.

“I don’t want to give up. Laban lang [fight]!” said B that day in her Twitter account.

Another friend, let’s call her J, was a poll watcher that day and the precinct to which she was assigned also had a problem with the VCM. The SD card was in a province three hours away from said precinct. Well, guess what? When I woke up the following day (May 10) at 9:30 am, my friend and the precinct voters were still there waiting for the SD card to arrive. She posted an Instagram Story and they were still all there.

The election day stories of B and J are not unique. Hundreds of vote-counting machines encountered issues during the May 9 polls. These VCMs are machines and subject to human error, tampering, extreme temperatures and maybe even Internet signal. It got so bad that I heard the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is eyeing an additional allowance of P2,000 for poll workers in precincts with defective VCMs.

According to Comelec, they will begin the investigation of the over 900 VCMs that encountered issues during the May 9 polls. These VCMs have been used in three straight national elections, so I’m not surprised that many of them had issues. Among the reasons are paper jam, rejected ballots, VCM scanner, VCM printer not printing and not printing properly. But thousands of VCMs worked properly. For instance, B’s brother voted in a different precinct just a floor away from hers and the machine was working just fine.

As someone who has voted so many times, I believe in trusting the process when it comes to the country’s Automated Election System. Yes, we may be having problems now but I hope the government works on them so that the next elections will be seamless and hassle-free for all.

With automated elections, it is easier for the citizenry to guard their ballots unlike before when you couldn’t do anything once you’ve dropped the ballot into that ballot box.  So while VCMs crashed, the voters were more vigilant in protecting their vote and that’s a good thing.

Automated elections are not fool-proof, as evidenced by the VCMs crashing on May 9, but with the proper measures in place, such as encrypting data and network monitoring, they are less prone to fraud.

The National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections has actually proposed changes in the country’s Automated Elections System. Among these changes include the printing of QR codes on both the election returns  and the voter verifiable paper audit trail or the receipt that comes out of the vote counting machines after voting.

The election watchdog said these QR codes would enable stakeholders such as election monitoring organizations and political parties, or any interested individuals, to aggregate results, if they have devices with QR code readers for the purpose of vote counting.

So, yes, the AES is not without its flaws but with refinements and changes to the system, it can help us more honest election results.

In beauty-related tech news, French luxury fashion brand Dior Beauty launched an innovative campaign with brand ambassador and global icon Jisoo of the Korean group Blackpink to give the brand’s 9.6 million Instagram followers access to four days of exclusive content and conversation with the muse of the new Dior Addict shine lipstick campaign over WhatsApp.

Dior collaborated with global communications platform Infobip to launch this omnichannel experience. Customers were invited to become part of the experience via Dior Beauty’s Instagram story, where Jisoo offered followers the chance to join her “exclusive WhatsApp group.” From there, customers were taken to a dedicated landing page where they were able to sign up to engage with Jisoo’s chatbot over WhatsApp ahead of the new Dior Addict shine lipstick launch. Members of the group were able to choose the type of content they wanted to receive, from themed videos to exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of Jisoo’s life as a Dior ambassador.

The campaign was managed through Infobip’s WhatsApp Business solution, with content that included images, videos, files, web links, audio files and buttons.

“This campaign has pushed the boundaries of how luxury beauty and technology must collaborate to deliver innovative experiences across the channels we know our customers love. Using WhatsApp meant we could think outside the box in terms of how we engage our dedicated Instagram community, giving them the opportunity to chat with Jisoo like they would a friend, and empowering them to choose the content they want to see next,” said Arthur Poulain, digital innovation and strategic planning manager for Dior.