The Carter Center has twice deployed limited observation missions to the Philippines to assess key aspects of national elections.
During the May 2010 elections, Carter Center observers were dispatched to metro Manila, Baguio City, and Bacolod to witness the use of electronic voting and to test a new SMS-based pilot tool to speed data collection and processing by observers during election observations. In May 2016, observers deployed to Mindanao, paying particular attention to violence surrounding the election and the overall campaign environment.
In March, The Carter Center sent a seven-person team to conduct a limited observation of the May 9 general elections. The mission focused its work on Mindanao, paying particular attention to violence around elections; freedom of expression, assembly, and choice in the campaign environment; campaign finance; and the resolution of electoral disputes. The limited scope of the mission meant that it was not able to assess the election process comprehensively and did not observe polling, counting, and tabulation in a systematic way.
In a June statement, the team reported its preliminary findings, including concerns about vote-buying (predominantly at the local level) and gender equity. According to the report, most of the people that observers spoke with felt the conduct of polling, counting, and tabulation was satisfactory, though that did not always guarantee a level playing field in the wider local electoral environment.
The Carter Center began an initiative to address emergent challenges to election observation in 2006 as part of its Democratic Election Standards project. This initiative included efforts to develop an observation methodology for electoral technologies, through the conduct of three limited missions focused on the use of technology in a variety of regional and electoral contexts and other methods. One of these was in the Philippines.
A Carter Center field team was joined on election day, May 10, 2010, by additional observers who watched the testing and sealing of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines as well as voting and precinct-level results transmission throughout metro Manila, Baguio City, and Bacolod.
Given the study mission's limited focus and small size, The Carter Center did not release public statements about the overall electoral process. However, the Center published a report (PDF) on the use of automated election technologies in the Philippines.
On election day, observers also pilot tested an SMS-based data collection tool developed by the Georgia Institute of Technology. This technology allowed observers to complete election day checklists directly into a customized program that transmits responses via cell phone networks back to a central server.
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Size: 300,000 square kilometers
Population below poverty line: 25 percent
Life expectancy: 69 years
Ethnic groups: Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Bisaya/Binisaya, Hiligaynon Ilonggo, Bikol, Waray, other
Religions: Catholic (Roman Catholic, Aglipayan), Muslim, Evangelical, Iglesia ni Kristo, other Christian, other, unspecified, none
Languages: Filipino (official; based on Tagalog) and English (official); eight major dialects - Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon or Ilonggo, Bicol, Waray, Pampango, and Pangasinan
Source: U.S. Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook 2016