Philippine politics jolted into digital age

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Philippine politics will never be the same after the country’s first automated ballot electrified voters long used to cheating, violence and disputes over delayed results.

Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino 3rd, whose parents led the struggle to restore Philippine democracy, may soon become the country’s first digitally elected president after a rapid vote count showed him winning by a landslide.

Despite daunting logistic challenges in a sprawling Southeast Asian  archipelago with 50 million voters, ballot-counting machines were activated just in time for Monday’s elections for 17,000 positions.

The saying that “guns, goons and gold” lord it over Philippine elections may no longer be totally true after a new weapon, the microchip, entered the scene.

In the past, paid thugs as well as rouge soldiers and policemen working for politicians snatched ballot boxes, intimidated voters and doctored tallies. This time, Filipinos were thrilled by the chance to slip their own ballots into digital scanners and know the results were being stored electronically for delivery to a central computer server in Manila, safe from theft and tampering.

“It was really an overwhelming experience for me because I knew that at that moment, I was making history for the country,” said Franz Jonathan de la Fuente, 19, a first-time voter studying journalism at the University of the Philippines.

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