Yellow ballot boxes out; black plastic in

Yellow ballot boxes out; black plastic in
By Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Say goodbye to the iconic yellow ballot boxes.

The steel ballot boxes, which witnessed much of the Philippines’ bloody election history, will be decommissioned when Filipinos vote for their new batch of leaders on May 10.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) Tuesday unveiled the black ballot boxes that will be used in the automated national elections in May, saying they will be harder to steal than the yellow metal boxes used in the past.

Election Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said the new ballot box measured 36 inches in length and 20 inches in width.

Hard plastic

The box, made of hard plastic, is 34 inches high to better accommodate the long ballots and the large number of votes. (The size of the old ballot box was 12 x 12 x 12 inches.)

“This will fit a thousand ballots, the main reason for the composition of the ballot box,” Larrazabal said.

On top of the plastic box is a cavity for the Precinct Count Optical Scan machine, which can be locked into place. The box has three hooks for padlocks on the lid.

Translucent windows

The ballot box has “unbreakable” translucent windows on the sides so that “the voter can see the paper dropping inside the box,” Larrazabal said.

He also noted that the plastic box could withstand the elements and the rigors of Election Day activities.

Because of the boxes’ size, poll cheaters and local warlords out to manipulate the results will not be able to just grab it from the precinct centers, Larrazabal said.

In past elections, teachers used to guard the yellow boxes with their own lives from election operatives.

UV ink marks

In May 2007, a school in Batangas was burned down when teachers manning the voting place refused to give up the ballot boxes. Three people were killed in the fire, which was allegedly ordered by a local politician.

The Comelec initially wanted to use a transparent election box. The poll body ruled it out because light could affect the ultraviolent (UV) ink marks on the ballots.

“When you have the markings exposed to sunlight for an extended period of time, they might fade,” Larrazabal said.

“If a recount has to be carried out, then suddenly your ballots may not have UV marks. So, what were original ballots in the beginning might suddenly look like fake ballots,” he added.

Barangay elections

Although the Comelec will not be using the yellow metal boxes for this elections, it will not yet throw away the equipment, which was designed for manual polls.

The poll body said the yellow ballot boxes would still be used for barangay elections and referendums.

The ProPinoy Project