Have you ever wondered what it’s like to sit in on elections and serve? What preparations are being made to ensure the election’s success? How do they prepare the front-runners for the big day?
The Electoral Boards (EBs), used to be known as Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs), are composed of teachers from the Department of Education (DepEd) who are chosen based on the criteria of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC). They’re the real players when it comes to Election Day. However, before being deployed to the ‘battlefield’, they must complete a series of training programs, including the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Certification Program.
Conduct of DOST Certification Program
The Amended Automated Election Law, Republic Act No. 9369, requires DOST to oversee the certification of members of the EBs as information technology-capable people who can utilize the Vote Counting Machine (VCM). Its goals are to implement the DOST Certification Portal and train certifiers on how to use it; incorporate/update certification materials/ paraphernalia in light of enhancements, modifications, or changes in the vote-counting machines to be used in the 2022 National and Local Elections (NLE); and conduct certification of Electoral Boards in preparation for the 2022 AES.
There are a total of 23 Regular Certifiers and four Quick Response Team (QRT) members on the DOST-I. The pool is made up of DOST-I employees as well as representatives from the State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), namely: Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU), Pangasinan State University (PSU), and University of Northern Philippines (UNP). Supervising Certifiers are selected and designated from the DOST Certifiers in the four provinces in Region 1.
The Certifiers are qualified based on their proficiency in ICT hardware and software troubleshooting; experience in handling training or certification activities; communication skills; and efficiency in addressing issues and concerns.
Before they can fully train the EBs, they underwent rigid training to hone their skills and expertise so that they can be effective in training the real players.
The DOST Certifiers went through an orientation on the process and the EB Certification Portal was introduced last 25 November 2021. On 17 December 2021, another training session was performed to prepare them for VCM operation. They also had to pass a theoretical exam as part of their accreditation on 20 January 2022 before they could be deemed suitable to train real players.
With the presence of the pandemic, there are various adjustments that need to be applied to proceed with the event without compromising the health of the public. These are the utilization of the DOST Certification Portal and digital signatures.
The DOST Certification Portal is a project of the department that aims to make the DOST Certification Program for National and Local Automated Election Systems more accessible. It is a web application that has been created to act as a platform for EB registration and assessment. The system will also keep track of exam outcomes and create valuable information for the Certification Program. Similarly, the portal provides information on the certified Electoral Boards that will be serving in the National and Local Elections as mandated by Republic Act No. 9369. Pre-pandemic, the EBs usually conduct physical submission, application, and examination. But due to the limited movement at present, this portal was established.
On the other hand, a digital signature is a mathematical approach for verifying the integrity and validity of a message, software, or digital document. It is the digital counterpart of a handwritten signature or a stamped seal, but it has a lot more built-in security. The purpose of a digital signature is to prevent tampering and impersonation in digital communications. Electronic papers, transactions, and digital messages can all benefit from digital signatures as proof of origin, identity, and status. This will be the first election where digital signatures will be used in lieu of the physical signatures where the EBs traditionally sign the documents prior to submission for the final canvassing.
In March 2022, the EBs will begin their training for the election on 9 May 2022. Its success lies in the collaboration of the different agencies involved.