Teachers will still play role in 2010 Poll body needs about 80,000 teachers
Posted March 19, 2009on:
By Anna Valmero
First Posted 17:45:00 03/19/2009
Filed Under: Eleksyon 2010, Elections, Schools
MANILA, Philippines–What would be the role of public school teachers in an automated election?
“Teachers will not lose their relevance during elections but poll automation will make their duties much easier,” said Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesperson James Jimenez.
The official said teachers who serve as chairman of the board of election officers (BEI) would remain a “very important part of the electoral process in 2010.”
Jimenez noted that the most “problematic part” of the teachers’ service is the actual counting of the votes and the preparation of the election returns (ERs), said Jimenez.
These manual duties put teachers under a lot of pressure because there are also attempts to “influence the contents of the ERs” even at the precinct level, he said.
Another critical duty of the teachers during elections is the transport of ERs from the precincts to canvassing centers, said Jimenez.
Under the poll automation plan, the BEI chairman will be trained to operate the counting machine, which already consolidates and transmits votes. The BEI chairman is also tasked to certify the election returns printed by the machine.
The machines are capable of electronically transmitting the results to the Comelec main office and other entities identified in the automated election system law.
“Poll automation will cut the duration of the teachers’ election duties and help reduce threat to their safety, especially during the transportation of ERs,” said Jimenez.
Typically, in manual elections the counting of ballots takes 10 to 12 hours, not counting the time it takes to transport the election returns to the board of canvassers, Jimenez added.
Under the poll automation project, the counting machine would consolidate the votes, print the ERs and transmit results in just minutes, he said.
Also in previous elections, the BEI will need to verify the voters’ identify against a list of registered voters, issue ballots and note the ballot’s serial number. Once the voter finishes, the BEI will need to verify the serial number of the voters’ ballot, take the voter’s fingerprint and put indelible ink on the voter’s forefinger.
“Even with the machines, you need the BEI to process the voter when he presents himself to vote,” said Jimenez.
Based on the Comelec poll automation plan, there would be six BEI officers per clustered precinct—chairman, poll clerk, third member and three support staff—plus one technical person certified by the Department of Science and Technology.
The BEI chairman, usually the teacher, will need to issue the ballot to the voters while the rest of the BEI staff, except the technical person, will handle the list or book of voters of the clustered precinct.
The technical person will offer support for the operation of the machines.
Five precincts can form one clustered precinct with a maximum of 1,000 voters.
Jimenez said at least 80,000 teachers would be mobilized for the 2010 elections, given that the law requires the BEI chairman to be a public school teacher.
Under the law, other members of the BEI may be a teacher or not, he said.
Meanwhile, Jimenez said the Comelec would meet with Department of Education Secretary Jesli Lapus to formalize arrangements for the payment of teachers’ honoraria.
Previously, teachers are paid in two installments: the first 50 percent upon reporting for duty and the next 50 upon return of forms and supplies to the municipal treasurer, Jimenez said.
The Congress approved on early March the P11.3 billion supplemental budget requested by Comelec to automate the 2010 elections.