by Charmie D. Lising
“Most of the time, we rely on general impressions of our candidate, formed from sound bytes, catchy slogans and jingles in deciding [whom] to vote for,” says Gabriel Nacianceno, director of iVote.ph, in an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Some voters resort to improper decision-making because they lack knowledge regarding candidates’ credentials and platforms.
In response to this problem, a group of concerned youths created iVote.ph, a non-profit Web site that serves as an online guide for voters.
Nacianceno thought of coming up with iVote.ph while surfing the Internet. There, he found Web sites where the American presidential elections could be monitored, and he figured that this could be a useful and interesting service for Filipinos as well.
iVote.ph contains relevant information that may help the public in coming up with intelligent choices for the May 14 elections. It features profiles, platforms, and stands on different issues of senatorial, congressional, and some local candidates.
The Web site also contains political and economic news, issues, and commentaries. By understanding current events, voters may know which platforms and advocacies are relevant to the country’s situation. Also, by being updated with national issues, Filipinos may be more aware of whether or not the government is doing its job.
Voting 101, a section in iVote.ph, answers frequently asked election-related questions, such as the importance of voting and what to look for in candidates.
The iVote.ph team, however, has been encountering difficulties in information-gathering and research.
“It's tough to scour around for platforms and profiles [of] candidates, as it seems like they do not even have platforms to begin with. We try to use our connections and all possible channels to find what we need from the candidates,” says Chin Tecson, deputy director for administrative affairs of iVote.ph.
They contact aspiring politicians personally in order to get firsthand information, but there are some who seem unwilling to help or support their cause.
The team is also struggling in terms of human resources. They need more manpower to cover a wider area. Since all of them are either working or studying, current members of iVote.ph cannot commit full-time to the Web site. They try to gather as many volunteers and affiliates as possible, not only to help them in information gathering but also in information dissemination and Web site promotions.
Reaching out to people
The noisiest supporters of iVote.ph are those from abroad who get a lot of helpful information from the Web site. “I can say [that] we have achieved our goal of educating our voters and reaching out to those who wish to know more about our elections, but of course there is so much more [that] we can do to fully arrive at our goal,” Tecson says.
iVote.ph was created with one mission in mind, which is to help make democracy work. Having a very ambitious goal, iVote.ph is but a small step in changing the way Filipinos view elections and how they make voting decisions. “Our achievements are somehow abstract and immeasurable so it's difficult to gauge our impact to the public, but we believe that in our own small way, by advocating what we stand for and actually doing something about it, we've helped shape the political landscape that the Philippines is currently in,” Tecson adds.
The iVote.ph team constantly updates their website to continuously provide the public with information that will aid them in exercising their voting rights. As stated in their website, “The right to vote is already ours. Let's make use of its power.”