The world is watching the United States not only with interest on the elections results but also with the conduct of their elections in the middle of this pandemic.
The conduct of the 2020 U.S. Presidential Elections will have a significant impact on how the Philippines will conduct its own 2022 Presidential Elections. This is considering the uncertainty surrounding the presence of an effective COVID-19 virus by the time that the campaign season begins, and election day comes.
As of this writing, the hotly contested race for the Presidency of the United States has reached its penultimate stages with the world anticipating the results of the votes in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada and Arizona. While a US President may have already been proclaimed by the time this article is posted, the drama is not about to end with no less than incumbent Donald Trump claiming electoral fraud in key states after his once insurmountable lead in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania quickly evaporated when in-mail and absentee votes came in. The US President’s legal team is about to protest the results in several states.
The world is watching the United States not only with interest on the elections results but also with the conduct of their elections in the middle of this pandemic. In the Philippines, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) has considered several options to ensure the safe conduct of elections. This includes the conduct of 2-day elections to control in the number of in-person voting following proper distancing protocols. This proposed measure will require about Php 2.5 Billion. Furthermore, the proposal for voting by mail especially for members of vulnerable sectors (e.g. Senior Citizens, Persons with Disabilities) has been explored by COMELEC to lessen the risk of COVID19 transmission.
Changes in the conduct of Philippine Elections would only open the floodgates for potential losing candidates to question the integrity of the elections. This includes the number of hands involved in transmitting the ballots from the voters to the automated counting machines, which have also been questioned for its reliability and accuracy in past elections.
The pandemic will also force campaign teams to think creatively and innovatively as mass gatherings involving millions of supporters may still not be permitted by the time campaign season officially starts. The role of television and social media advertisements may be critical in building support bases for candidates and partners, while unexplored territory such as online campaigns and public rallies may become the new norm come the next elections. Think tanks, political operators and strategists will have their work cut out for them especially if the pandemic remains a threat by mid-2021.
The COVID19 pandemic has altered not only the socio-economic dimensions of all nations but also the political life of many of today's leaders. Perhaps, COVID19 is also cleansing agent to get rid of incompetent and underperforming officials.
The recent behavior of President Trump is common among losing candidates here in the Philippines. We expect more worse versions of Trump come 2022 especially if the election is not conducted in an orderly manner.
In the Philippines, we don’t have losers in elections; only victims of cheating.
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