June 4, 2010

The null votes controversy: All you needed to know

First, I'll show you a map of the Philippines depicting two things: which vice presidential candidate won there, and the proportion of the null votes from the total votes cast; blue for Roxas, orange for Binay and green for other (the only other candidate that won in a province is guess who... Edu Manzano).

The darker the shade, the more null votes there are per a hundred votes cast.

What are the patterns?

For the most part, the farther away from urban areas, the darker the shade. The national total (except for uncanvassed COCs and Camarines Norte, is 4.12%.

Roxas had six provinces/cities that he won in which the null votes was 20% or more. They are Masbate, Misamis Occidental, Negros Occidental, Northern Samar, Tawi-Tawi and Zamboanga del Norte. Together, these account for 2,436,366 votes.

Binay had six provinces/cities that he won in which the null votes was 20% or more. They are Basilan, Biliran, Leyte, (Western) Samar, Sulu and Zamboanga del Sur. Together, these account for 2,044,098 votes.

What does this tell us?

First what are null votes? This are votes that the PCOS machine disregarded. Either the person shaded more than the minimum number (one for vice president), didn't shade (an abstention).

Looking at the ballot (see thumbnail on the right), we can see that Roxas has three "neighbors", Legarda, Manzano and Yasay. Unlike Acosta who was first on the ballot, and probably a great deal of his votes were boo-boos, we can not say the a great dal of Roxas' votes would've been wasted, since the name "Roxas" starts with a letter "R", something you won't expect to see first on the ballot (ergo, if you'd vote for him, you'd look for his name and not just shade the circle beside first name (which is Binay).).

On the flipside, if you're voting for Binay, you'd expect his name to appear early. After all, "Binay" starts with the letter "B".

Unless you are that stupid.

So let's say we'd count these null votes. The question is how?
For overvotes, which shade would we count, when there are at least two shades?
For undervotes/abstentions, well, I don't know how'd they count that.

More maps!






Vice President

Null votes



The votes for each candidate came from the official website of the House of Representatives.
The total votes cast, including null votes, came from the website provided by Smartmatic for the 2010 elections results. Camarines Norte wasn't able to transmit their electronic COC hence appeared black on the map.

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