By Ian Zane T. Esparaga | May 5, 2021
Silliman University Student Government (SUSG) Virtual Halalan last April 28 recorded an increase in voter turnout this year.
The SUSG Commission on Elections (COMELEC) garnered a total of 8,894 number of voters this year with a 55.5% turnout rate. A 17.4% increase from the previous year.
This also saw the COMELEC recording more than half of the registered voters that has not been reached in the past few years. From 2017 to 2020, the SUSG COMELEC only accumulated an average of 37.25% turnout rate.
According to COMELEC Chairwoman, Hon. Mary Louise Ramirez, this year’s virtual election was a success. She also cited that holding the first-ever Election Forum, Virtual Miting de Avance, and Virtual Mock Election virtually was already a success from the get-go.
“There were a lot of firsts, nevertheless, we made it work,” she added.
Ramirez highlighted that the accessibility of the election using the Silliman Online University Learning (SOUL), the university’s learning management system, was the key factor of the increase in voter turnout.
“It’s the fact that all Silliman students [have] a SOUL account where they can access anywhere. Students no longer had to walk lengths to get to their precincts. The virtual ballots were designed to be convenient.”
SUSG Vice President-elect, Shem Japheth Barinaga, also shared the same sentiment with the COMELEC Chairwoman.
“That was such a big improvement and advantageous that it was an online election ‘cause it is really convenient. They don’t have to go to precincts, they don’t have to walk and find their name where they can vote, that’s why daghan ang ni-vote this year,” Barinaga told tWS.
For President-elect Myka Reambonanza, this year’s virtual election was historical.
“The moment that I knew the voter’s turnout, the first thing that came into my mind is, we made history,” Reambonanza shared to tWS in an interview.
Reambonanza bared that there was a feeling of anxiousness prior to the elections after the incident from theUniversity of San Carlos (USC) 2021 Supreme Student Council online election was officially declared a failure by the USC COMELEC last April 22.
Meanwhile, COMELEC chair Ramirez reiterated there was no doubt on the accuracy of the results.
“The COMELEC had several virtual ballot prototypes. When we explored SOUL, we did multiple trials to test how a certain setting would affect the results,” she added.
Considering the increase of the voter’s turnout this year, Ramirez does see a possible another virtual election in the future.
“This is an achievement I would like to attribute to this year’s Student Assembly and the President. It was the amendments embodied in the 2021 Omnibus which made the virtual halalan an option other than the traditional voting method. I’m certain the next COMELEC would find the virtual halalan a more efficient and resourceful option, just like this year.”