By Leslie Ann Aquino
It's back to the old manual system for the nearly 60 million voters expected to troop to the different polling centers to cast their vote on May 14 in the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan polls.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez (photo by Ali Vicoy/Manila Bulletin)
And with the village and youth polls postponed twice in the past, there is a possibility that some voters are either not familiar, or no longer familiar with this old system. The three previous national and local polls held re in 2010, 2013 and 2016, were "automated."
Even a poll official has admitted that the manual system is going to be a "novel" experience especially for the estimated five million first time SK voters.
"This has long been postponed. So, most of the first time voters are lacking in experience. It will be a very novel experience for them to go into a manual elections on several levels," Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said.
He said it's very likely that these voters won’t even recognize a manual ballot since the electorate are more familiar with the automated ballot.
Such observation seems to be true for 16-year-old Danielle Mendiola, who will cast her vote for the first time on Monday, in Quezon City.
"I really thought it was going to be automated wherein you just shade the name of the candidate that you want to vote. When I found out that it’s going to be manual, I began wondering how the ballot will look like and the process of voting," she said in an interview.
How to vote
No need to worry, this step-by-step process that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) prepared will help guide Danielle and other voters on Election Day:
- At the polling place, look for your name in the Posted Computerized Voters List and determine your precinct number and sequence number.
- Approach the Electoral Board and give your name, age, precinct number and sequence number. (Bring any valid identification card in case you are asked to prove your identity.)
- Get your ballot from the Electoral Board. Voters 18 to 30 years old will be given two ballots, one for SK and one for Barangay. Those aged 15 to 17, will receive one SK ballot, while those aged 31 and older, will receive one Barangay ballot.)
- Fill out the ballot by writing in the corresponding spaces the name of individual candidates you've chosen using the ballot secrecy folder to prevent other people from seeing what you are writing.
- After filling out the ballot, fold it in the same manner as it was received. (Do not remove the detachable coupon).
- Return the folded ballot to the electoral board.
- Allow your right forefinger nail to be marked with indelible ink.
- Observe the Chairperson removing the ballot coupon. The Chairperson will deposit the ballot in the compartment of the ballot box for valid ballots and the detached coupon in the compartment for spoiled ballots.
It’s also important for one to be familiar with the ballots that will be used in manual polls and how to properly fill it out.
A manual elections ballot will only feature the position titles and blank spaces. Voters will have to write the name of their chosen Punong Barangay (Barangay Chairman) and seven Kagawad Sangguniang Barangay (councilmen) for the Barangay Elections.
The same goes for the SK Ballot, voters will vote for one Chairperson Sangguniang Kabataan and seven member of the Sangguniang Kabataan.
Two ballots – red or black ink
For those who will receive two ballots, make sure that the ballot you are filling out is the right one. Take note that the ballot for Barangay Elections will have all its text printed in black while the SK ballot will feature text that is printed in red ink with the instructions printed in black ink so don't interchange it.
No smiley faces
When filling out the ballot, voters should also remember to keep it neat.
Jimenez explained why: any marks, doodles, smudges or stains may result in the ballot being invalidated for being a marked ballot.
This means that drawing hearts or smiley faces are definitely a no, no.
Choose the right candidate
But how does one choose the right candidate?
Poll watchdog group Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) may be of help in answering that question through its Ten Commandments for Responsible Voting:
- Thou shalt vote according to the dictate of your conscience.
- Thou shalt respect the decision of others in choosing their candidates.
- Thou shalt seek to know the moral integrity, capabilities and other personal qualities of the candidates you will vote for.
- Thou shalt strive to understand the issues, platform, and programs of candidates and parties seeking your vote.
- Thou shalt not sell your vote.
- Thou shalt not vote for candidates using guns, goons and gold.
- Thou shalt not vote for candidates with records of graft and corruption.
- Thou shalt not vote for candidates just because of utang na loob, popularity or pakikisma.
- Thou shalt not vote for candidates living an immoral life
- Thou shalt put the welfare of the country above all else in choosing the candidate you will vote for.
When done voting, the next question is, how will your ballot be counted? In a manual poll, the counting of votes is also done manually and this begins at the close of voting period at 3 p.m.
The Board of Election Tellers, mostly teachers, will read out loud the votes written on the ballots, while an election worker tallies the votes as they are called out.
As to how long this will last, the Comelec explained this may last until midnight of election day or even beyond – depending on a variety of factors, including the size of the barangay.
Go out and vote
What else should voters remember on Election Day? Go out and actually vote.
According to PPCRV chairperson Rene Sarmiento, every vote is important as there are usually many tie votes in Barangay and SK Elections.