Many have waited for the coming 2010 Elections. Some are excited and others may feel worried of the outcome of the elections. Why? The May 2010 Election is the first nationwide automated elections, meaning that Filipinos would be using machines in receiving and counting their votes.

For the longest time, the Filipinos have been swamped with issues and debates on what technologies to be used in the elections. The truth is in the past COMELEC tried automated elections in some parts of the Philippines. Was it successful? Well, COMELEC encountered many problems at that time because the infrastructure and the knowledge of the people are not yet ready.

At the start of the 15th Congress, COMELEC was faced with different controversies and issues surrounding the automated elections. Questions were raised on bidding process, budget, legitimacy of SMARMATIC, delayed productions of the machines and the most problematic of all is the lack of trust and knowledge of the technology.

The coming election has a big implication to the lives of the Filipino people especially the farmers. In June 2009, the CARP with Extension and Reform Law or RA 9700 was passed. To this day, the some parts of IRR of the said law is still being drafted. Agrarian reform advocates believe that the next President would have a great responsibility in making sure that the essence and the intent of CARPER law will be fully implemented in his or her term. The next President should really make the agrarian reform a centerpiece program of the government as stated in the Constitution.

As such, it is in the hands of the electorate to vote wisely and choose the next President whose heart is open to the agrarian reform program, a leader who is not corrupt, who respect the community processes and decision making processes, pro-environment and gender sensitive.

Knowing who to vote will not be the end of the election, the new thing is that this is the first time that most of the Filipinos would vote in an automated election. Below are outline/ steps on what to do during the elections. We hope that this will help all of Filipinos in the coming election.

In getting your ballot

  1. Look for your name in the Posted Computerized Voters List (PCVL) which is posted near the entrance of the voting center and take notice of and memorize your precinct number and sequence number;
  2. Go to the BEI member or the support staff in-charge of the precinct. Give your sequence number, name, address and other relevant information.
  3. The BEI or the support staff will verify this information to the Election Day Computerized Voters List (EDCVL). If you are in the EDCVL, the BEI will then ask you to provide an ID that would show your name, picture and signature. The BEI will not accept barangay certificate or community tax certificate as proof of your identity. If you do not have any ID with you, any BEI or registered voter within the precinct who knows you may verify your identity under oath. This will be recorded to the minutes. If the proof of your identity is enough, then the BEI or the support staff will call you in a loud voice. If no one objects, then he/she will proceed to the Chair of the BEI. If the proof is not enough, then he/she will be asked to leave the premises and the reason will be explained to the voter.
  4. Before the BEI would provide you with the ballot, the BEI will check if there is an indelible ink in your nails. If there is, then that you will be asked to leave. This will be included in the Minutes.
  5. If you do not have an indelible ink, you will be asked to sign the EDCVL and the front of your ballot. This is done to authenticate the ballot. Not doing so, is an election offense.
  6. The voter will be given instructions by the BEI on what to do.
  7. The secrecy folder will be given to you and the ballot will be inserted inside the folder. This will be done in front of you. Only the Chairman is allowed to give you the ballot. Only one ballot is given to every voter.
How to Vote
  1. Maintain the secrecy of your vote by using the secrecy folder.
  2. Your vote will be counted by shading the oval beside the name of the candidate or the party. Your need to use the marking pen provided for by the COMELEC.
  3. Make sure that your do not over-shade, meaning you shade outside of the oval as your ballot may not be counted.
  4. Make sure you do not undershade, meaning you do not shade fully the oval as your vote may not be counted.
  5. Make sure that you count the number of votes your cast for each position as your vote may not be counted because you over voting.
  6. After voting, go to the PCOS machine. Insert your ballot to the entry slot. Wait for your vote to enter fully to the PCOS machine. The BEI will check in the screen if your ballot is inserted successfully.
  7. The secrecy folder will be given to you and the ballot will be inserted inside the folder. This will be done in front of you. Only the Chairman is allowed to give you the ballot. Only one ballot is given to every voter.
  8. The BEI Chairman will then put indelible ink in your nails. Make sure that the whole of your cuticle is covered. If your do not have index finger, then the BEI may put the indelible ink in your other fingers.
  9. Then, you will be asked to affix your thumb mark to the EDCVL.
  10. Now, you may leave the precinct.
For the rejected ballots

The PCOS machine may not receive your ballots. In this case, every voter will be given another chance to insert the ballot to the PCOS machine. If the second attempt is successful then your may continue the Step 7-10 above. If not successful, then, give your ballot to the BEI Chairman. He/She will mark the ballot as "Rejected Ballot". Each member of the board will be required to sign at the back of the ballot. Then it will be inserted in the "Envelop of Rejected Ballots (A15)".

Any party or person with objection to the rejection of the ballot may write an objection. This will be included in the Minutes.

Reminders

  1. The location of your precinct may change. This is because COMELEC is now implementing a clustered precinct where 3 or more precincts are clustered to gather 1000 voters which will be clustered into 1 precinct only.
  2. The look and feel of the ballot and the voting process has change. Before, we write the name of our candidates to the ballot, now, we just shade the oval beside the name of the candidates.
  3. The ballot box has change. Before, we drop our ballots inside a ballot box. Now, we insert our ballot in the PCOS machine.
  4. Do not bring ballpen as the COMELEC will provide for us.
  5. The voting time is between 7:00 A.M to 6:00 P.M. No one is allowed to vote beyond this except if at 6:00PM you are in the vicinity of the precinct. Meaning, those only allowed to vote beyond 6:00PM are those who are at 30 meters from the precinct. It would be good to go to your precinct early.
  6. Know your precinct, check before the day of the election. Get your precinct number, sequence number and other important data. You may see this information posted in front of the COMELEC office or check at www.comelec.gov.ph. If you will not be able to do this, then check the Precinct Computerized Voters List upon your arrival in the polling centers.
  7. Make sure to make a list of who you will be voting before proceeding to the precinct.
  8. Bring your ID with your name, picture, and address to minimize the question of your identity.
  9. It is not allowed to use cellphone and/or camera in the precinct.
Finally: MISTAKES ARE UNACCEPTABLE. Any undue markings made in your ballot may be the cause for disenfranchisement and rejection of your ballot.

Note: Some portions of the article are lifted from the Gabay sa Election ng Akbayan! and some are interpretations from the General Instructions for 2010 Elections by COMELEC.

-Catherine D. Tiongson-Intalan