Put in clear and appropriate metrics. That's what I shared at yesterday's strategic planning workshop of the Commission on Elections.
Examples of measures of efficiency in using state resources in the administration of elections are: 1) the cost of getting elected; and 2) cost of a vote, which would include the cost of informing voters. These metrics would be used to measure the performance of the Comelec over time.
The objective of the Comelec should be to target an optimized cost of getting elected that would attract talent and make the process inclusive and competitive. In optimizing, the Comelec would identify the various cost components, like patronage and propaganda cost, and bring down those that are attributable to them or put in controls to spending in areas where they can. In this manner the election management body becomes a leveler of the electoral playing field. By looking closely at the cost components, the Comelec would be better informed as to where state support could come in and in what forms so that election would be within reach of many. The unit is cost of election in pesos for each elected position group (i.e. president, senator, and all the way down to the municipal or city councilor).
The longer term objective of the Comelec should be to track the cost of serving an elected position.
I compute the cost of a vote in the May 2010 election at PhP486 or USD11. This is from pundits' estimate of PhP17 billion total cost, divided by the turnout of 35 million voters (73 percent). This doesn't include the costs borne by civil society organizations doing support work to the Comelec in voter information, outreach to vulnerable sectors, reporting on election-related violence, and others that are not covered by state funds.
Vicente Paterno, former senator and fellow member of the Namfrel national council comments, since the estimate of the cost of counting machines in the upcoming legislative elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao is between PhP1.8 and 2 billion, the cost per voter translates to over PhP1,000. Since only three positions are on the ballot, the cost would be over PhP300 per contested-position vote. I add that turnout in these elections are historically low -- around 30 percent; you can figure how the cost skyrockets with the inefficiency.
I have not seen any accounting on the cost of an overseas absentee vote, but I suspect it is high because the turnout was a measly single digit.
Thanks to the senior staff and the middle managers of the Comelec who suggested that civil society representatives should be among those to input in the formulation of their strategic planning.
Among the Comelec division chiefs in the strategic planning session series were representatives of the Consortium on Electoral Reforms (CER), Lawyers League for Liberty (Libertas)/Lawyers Network for Transparent Elections (LENTE),, National Citizens' Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel), Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), and Transparency and Accountability Network (TAN).