3 parties divide USC in election of firsts

By Andrew Jonathan Bagaoisan
Tinig ng Plaridel / UPJourn.net

In results from the quickest election count in UP history, Titus Tan of Nagkakaisang Iskolar para sa Pamantasan at Sambayanan (KAISA) won chairperson of the 2009 University Student Council (USC) on Feb. 25, the first time for the yellow party since it was founded in 2005.

The 2009 election, when all voting in UP Diliman was uniformly done and counted electronically for the first time, gave KAISA 11 seats in the 34-member council, along with Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP (Stand-UP). Nine seats went to the Alyansa ng mga Mag-aaral Para sa Panlipunang Katwiran at Kaunlaran (ALYANSA), while three went to independent candidates. (see updated USC elections 2009 results)

Tan scored a more than 1,500-vote lead over Airah Cadiogan of Stand-UP, to whom he lost last year in a tight race for USC vice chair. Tan got 4,900 votes while Cadiogan won 3,389. Niña Marie Angela Acasio of ALYANSA meanwhile gained 1,276 votes.

Stand-UP’s Jaqueline Joy Eroles won USC vice chair over Joseph Miguel Gutierrez of ALYANSA with a 614-vote difference. Both are councilors in the outgoing council.

Tan, the first candidate from KAISA to win a councilor seat in 2006, is also joined in the incoming USC by three councilors from KAISA. They won the last of the 12 councilor seats and gave their party its first councilor posts since Tan first won.

An independent candidate, Christopher Mariano “Kester” Yu, meanwhile became the number one councilor after running on an environment-focused platform. In at least four years, it was also the first time an independent snagged the most votes among councilors.

Stand-UP and ALYANSA shared four councilor seats each. The other independent, Arnie “Bong” Arquiza, landed 24th place among the 35 candidates.

Tan and Yu both come from the College of Science, where they succeeded each other as college student council chairpersons.

All goes electronic

This year’s vote also put to its first large-scale test an electronic voting system that for the first time connected computers in precincts all over UP Diliman.

Students this year had a chance to vote by merely registering at the precinct, logging online with their student numbers and generated passwords, selecting their favored candidates, and confirming their votes with a mouse click.

Voter turnout this year dipped almost three points from last year, with 10,024 students or 42.96 percent of the total voting population of 23,333. The 2008 elections registered a 45.91 percent turnout.

Members of the technical team from the UP Linux Users Group (UnPLUG) stationed across the precincts to assist students and facilitate the voting.

UnPLUG developed the open-source software used for the elections, which has been used in dormitory council elections for some years and at five UP buildings in last year’s elections.

Votes cast from all colleges were monitored and counted by a central server in the Electrical and Electronics Engineering Institute. After 7 p.m., the team at the server had to wait for all precincts to finish before it could close the system and start counting, members said.

All precincts finally closed around 7:30 p.m. Less than a minute after, the total results were available for viewing in each precinct.

Last year, election watchers had to hold vigil in Vinzons Hall until early morning as the results came in from each college, the larger or farther ones often near the end.

Despite technical setbacks on election morning, the election turned out “successful,” as described by Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Elizabeth Enriquez to the Philippine Collegian.

Six students in various colleges were reported by the Collegian to have voted manually. Other students’ names also did not show up in the database.

A number could not vote at once due to problems logging in. Usually these were caused by mistyping the passwords given to them, said UnPLUG members. For instance, the students often mistake the small letter L for the number 1.

UnPLUG told TNP/UPJourn.net it hopes to release the breakdown of votes this week.

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