Comelec covers more bases for vote
By Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines–The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has issued new guidelines to provide remedies for at least three concerns in the coming polls: What if there is a shortage of ballots in a precinct? What if the counting machine rejects a ballot? Will there be enough staff to answer voters’ questions about the new automation process?
Revised General Instructions for Board of Election Inspectors (BEI), released on March 4, includes two new sections to “finetune the process and address procedural gaps” ahead of the May 10 national and local automated polls.
One new section (Section 37) addresses the possibility of ballot shortages in some precincts. “In case the official ballots of a precinct have all been used up and there are still voters registered at the precinct waiting to cast their votes,” the following procedure will be followed:
The chair of the BEI will ensure that the voters are eligible to vote and write down their names in the minutes. The chair then issues a certificate saying that they are indeed registered voters. The chair will then assign a third member of the BEI to accompany the voters to the next nearest precinct to cast their vote.
The Comelec raised the issue of a ballot shortage after the Supreme Court extended the registration period in December 2010.
In all, the poll body said 50.7 million voters registered to participate in the May 10 polls. Each voter will only get one ballot.
The new instructions also detailed new procedures in case the Precinct Count Optical Scan machine rejects a ballot. Now, the Comelec will allow a voter to feed the ballot to the machine four times instead of the original two.
If the PCOS rejects a ballot, the voter will be allowed to review his ballot for ambiguous marks and check if the serial number of the ballot matches that of the precinct.
After the review, the BEI should “let the voter refeed the ballot,” the GI said.
Another new section (Section 10) deputizes Department of Education supervisors for election day duty to assist voters.
According to the instructions, there should be at least one DepEd supervisor with support staff at every polling center. The number of DepEd supervisors per polling center will depend on the number of precincts in the area, the Comelec said.
The DepEd supervisor will help the election officer in crowd management and voters’ assistance. The DepEd official will also be in contact with police and military personnel nearby and can coordinate with them if there is a need, the poll body said.