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Voters in mock polls find automation easy

Posted on: March 26, 2010

Voters in mock polls find automation easy

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 11:11:00 03/25/2010

Filed Under: Elections, Eleksyon 2010

MANILA, Philippines—Voters participating in the mock polls held at the Senate Thursday said the automated system offers an easier and more efficient way of voting over the traditional manual balloting.

“Madali lang naman pala ang pagboto. Maayos naman ang instructions sa amin na dapat iitiman nang buo ang bilog sa (tabi ng) pangalan ng gustong kandidato. At wag mag-over-vote. Kapag sa mga pwesto ng presidente, bise, mayor, congressman, dapat isa lang, wag sosobra (Voting in the automated election system was easy. Just follow the instructions to fully shade the ovals opposite the names of your preferred candidates. And no over-voting like for example, in elective posts for president, vice president, mayor, or congressman, just vote for one candidate),” said Ana Boo Linga, a 75-year-old resident of Pasay City.

Linga, who was assigned to vote at Sorsogon City under the name Crisanta Benitez Lacamiento, added she welcomed the change in the country’s manner of voting because shading the ovals to select your candidate is a “faster, easier, more efficient way of voting.”

“Madali lang akong natapos na bumoto kasi i-she-shade lang, wala pang sampung minuto naiboto ko yung karapatan ko (I was able to vote without problems and finished in less than ten minutes. I was able to exercise my right),” said Linga, who beamingly showed her purpled forefinger from the indelible ink.

The voter said that despite her age, she was able to see the ovals and read the candidates’ names and cast her votes. However, she said that the voter beside her who was also an elderly found it difficult to read the names on the ballots due to old age.

Linga suggested that very old voters should be accompanied by their relatives so that they could be guided on Election Day.

“Naawa ako dun sa katabi ko kanina, hindi na kasi niya mabasa yung balota. Mabuti may guide sa loob pero dapat sa Mayo, sasamahan sila ng mga kamag-anak nila para hindi mahirapan,” said Linga.

Reading the names on the ballots was also a problem for Rommel Solomon, 62, the first voter to cast his ballot in the mock polls because he forgot to wear his eye glasses.

“Nakaboto naman ako, may assistance nga lang (ng BEI), kasi hindi ko mabasa nang maayos yung pangalan. Mabilis naman pag may guide (I was able to vote with the assistance of one of the BEI because I cannot read the names. I was able to cast my ballot fast, maybe ten minutes),” said Solomon.

To deal with such issues, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the elderly can be guided by any member of the board of elections inspectors in casting their ballot.

The mock polls process was conducted to simulate the country’s first attempt to automate the elections using precinct count optical scan (PCOS) technology and to give voters a first look at the system.

“The objective of the mock polls is to simulate what happens on Election Day to see where we can improve on our procedures, allow our voters to test the system, and to allow our legislators to observe the system that they want to guard from fraud. We also want to show the public how transparent the procedures are,” said Jimenez.

About 200 Senate staffers and residents from Metro Manila joined the mock polls and voted at Sorsogon City and Donsol polling precincts, respectively, between 7 a.m. to 12 noon.

The voters at the holding area were oriented on how to properly fill up ballots—by fully shading the ovals and not over-voting—while waiting for the turn to vote.

“The orientation on how to fill up ballots is there to remind people not to be afraid of the system. That essentially, the voters manually fill up the ballots and feed that to the PCOS machine and the counting, which usually takes months to finish, are faster,” said Jimenez.

“This mock polls (process) is to build confidence on the system and to prove that it works. So far, everything is going smoothly,” added Comelec Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer, who is overseeing the process.

For the May polls, voters nationwide, except in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), would use an 8.5-inch wide by 25-inch long ballot containing all names of candidates for national positions in front side and local positions at the back.

Instructions to prevent over-voting in Engligh are also found on the header for each position, such as vote for no more than one candidate for positions of president, vice president, party list, mayor, congressman, and governor, and vote for not more than 12 candidates for senator.

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