Saturday, May 01, 2010

On The Ballot For The May 10, 2010 Philippine Automated Elections

A nice person I met via my Facebook page requested me to put this Facebook note I wrote onto my Blogspot and Multiply. Feel free to link up and share this. Thank you!

I attended my barangay's seminar on the 2010 elections last April 25, arranged by the captain, Ralph Diaz. I learned a few things from Mr. Diaz about the election ballot that could be informative for all of us:

1. Mr. Diaz said that the ballot is very, very sensitive to marks, ink, H20, stains, scratches, folds, sweat, etc. If, say, you have grime on your hands, or your hands are wet, or your sweat drips onto the ballot, the PCOS (Precinct Count Optical Scan) Unit will not read it. So, keep your hands very clean before voting. That is why the indelible ink will be put on your finger after you're done voting, and not before, and why you will be given your ballot in a folder, a "Ballot Secrecy Folder", so that you can lessen the actual handling of the ballot with your hands.

2. Shade the egg-shaped hole beside your chosen candidate fully (you will be provided with a marker). Don't check, line, X, dot, or half-shade it, because the PCOS Unit will not read it. Try not to go beyond the lines also (well, not too much).

3. Mr. Diaz said that there will be a barcode going around the ballot. If this is marked, even scratched, in any way, the ballot will be spoiled. He said that if anyone else handles the ballot, watch them well, in case they intentionally scratch the barcode with a fingernail to prevent your ballot from being counted. He used as an example that if you're obviously for a candidate that, say, an unscrupulous precinct official is against (hopefully, there's no such thing as an unscrupulous precinct official ;-P), that official may scratch your barcode to prevent your vote from being counted.

4. You will have four tries to put your ballot through the PCOS Unit. You can put it in forward, backward, front side up, back side up, whichever, but only four tries. If after the 4th try it doesn't read properly, goodbye ballot.

5. You will get one chance to have your ballot changed if you don't like it. That's when they first hand it to you. Inspect it right away. If you see any folds, scratches, or marks, you can ask for a change (which may lengthen your voting process, Mr. Diaz added).

6. Bring a list of your chosen candidates on a piece of paper so that you won't spend too much time filling out the ballot. If you make your decisions on the day itself without a list, you could spend a long time filling it up.

7. Watch the readout on the PCOS Unit when you insert your ballot into it. Mr. Diaz said that if successful, it'll read, "Congratulations! Your ballot has been scanned." If not, it'll say why (improper shading, etc.) Get that "Congratulations" message before leaving to make sure your vote is counted.

8. Bring an ID (Voter's ID is best, but if you don't have one, driver's license, passport, etc. any valid ID with your address and preferably a photo is all right) to present to the BEI (Board of Elections Inspector). If you can find out beforehand through your barangay, also get your Voter's ID number, precinct number, and your sequence number (the number beside your name in the voter's list). This'll speed up your voting process.

9. The ballot you are given will only be readable by one specific PCOS Unit. In other words, only one machine will be able to read your ballot, because it's pre-registered there, so when you're ready, line up at the proper machine. Don't line up at the wrong machine; your ballot won't be read, and it may spoil your vote.

10. Polls open on May 10, 2010, at 7 a.m. and end at 6 p.m.

11. Mr. Diaz said that the Comelec told him that with the PCOS Units, we will know the winner of the elections in 5 days. Otherwise, the PCOS Units will allow for a manual count since all votes will be recorded inside the machines (let's hope it doesn't come to that, because it's going to take the usual weeks and weeks to finish the count).

12. The PCOS Units have internal batteries that can last 16 hours in case of power outages. Since the voting period only lasts 10 hours, there's a 6 hour buffer. But still, let's hope for no brownouts on May 10, 2010.

13. The PCOS Unit will print out the vote count in what looks like a very long cash register receipt (whose print will last for 5 years, he said), which will be put into a sealed box that'll be sent to the Comelec for proper counting. Also, the PCOS Unit will count the number of voters who are voting based on the ballots inserted into it, so again, watch the screen on the machine to make sure of voter count, as well as other important messages.

14. Mr. Diaz said that you should vote only the exact number you should vote for. So, vote for only 1 president, 1 vice president, 12 senators, 1 party list, 1 mayor, 1 vice mayor, 1 member of the House of Representatives, etc. (the limit will be there on your ballot as a "Vote for not more than ____"). If you vote for more than the stipulated number, that particular portion of the ballot is spoiled. You may, however, vote for less (as in, if you can't find 12 worthy senatoriables to vote for, it's all right to vote for less than 12).

15. Mr. Diaz stressed repeatedly that in voting this time, one should not make mistakes. It's asking a lot from us, but he said that over and over again. His words: "Don't make mistakes, otherwise, you'll spoil your ballot".

16. Of course you'll also be asked to do the usual signing of forms and marking of thumbprints.

Feel free to share this note. I wish I could take questions, but I only took notes as Mr. Diaz was speaking, so I doubt if I will know the answers. Any questions you have can be sent to your Barangay Captains, or to the Comelec.

I hope this information helps!

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