Larrazabal on US experience: Voter trust paramount

Posted at 11/07/12 1:16 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Many states in the United States seem to prefer mailing their votes to their local election office before election day.

“Almost all states allow mailed-in votes but there is still a choice between mailed-in votes and voting on election day,” said former poll commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal.

In an interview with ANC, Larrazabal cited what he witnessed in Washington and Oregon where people cast their votes days before November 6.

“It minimizes the hassle,” he said, adding that some voters, like those in Florida, had to wait seven hours just to cast their early votes.

Larrazabal, who is now with the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, is in the US observing the presidential elections at the invitation of an international agency.

“That goes to show that political maturity and political trust is important. Just imagine if you don’t trust the system, if you don’t trust the voters, you don’t trust the stakeholders how can you assure yourself that the ballot you sent to the particular voter will be filled up by that voter,” he said.   

He added that the system can also be implemented in countries with very efficient postal services.

“The beauty of looking at other electoral system in the world is you have ideas on what you can do to improve the way you run an election in your own country,” he explained.

This is Larrazabal’s second time to be an official observer in the US elections.

“There is more enthusiasm on the part of the voters now because it’s a presidential elections and it’s hotly contested,” he said.

Larrazabal said that there were also some minor hitches like the problems with the machines, the absence of the voter’s name in the polling centers, and the long lines at polling centers.

“Dito, seven hours. Anong problema nila? Yung sa machines nagkaproblema, pero wala silang patayan, wala silang harassment,” he said.   

What’s exciting about the event is that one can see what needs to be done to improve one’s own system.

“If you can implement those improvements back in the Philippines, then you'll feel good because you're contributing to the democracy of the Philippines,” he said. -- ANC