MANILA, Philippines — Exactly one month before the May 9 national and local elections, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Saturday announced they already completed the printing of over 56 million ballots in 49 days, which is considered a record-breaking.
Comelec Chairman Juan Andres Bautista noted that the printing of the 56,722,230 ballots was completed last April 7, or 18 days earlier than the target completion which is on April 25.
“It’s the most number of ballots that have been printed in Philippine election history yet we were able to complete the task only 49 days. This is the fastest in automated election history. We were able to do that primarily because we reformatted the ballot and ballots were around 5 to seven inches shorter that the ballots used in 2010 and 2013 polls,” he said in a press conference at the National Printing Office (NPO) in Quezon City.
In 2010, where the first nationwide automated polls was held, the printing of the 50 million ballots were completed in 81 days while the 52 million ballots for the 2013 midterm polls consumed 57 days.
The Comelec chief said the ballots will undergo verification using the actual vote counting machines (VCMs) that will be used in the forthcoming polls, to ensure that the ballots will be read and votes will be accurately counted.
As of 6 p.m., April 8, about 77.39 percent of all printed ballots have been verified. The remaining ballots are expected to be verified before the April 25 deadline.
For her part, Atty. Genevieve Guevarra, head of the Comelec-Printing Committee, reported that a total of 759,923 ballots were quarantined for various defects (miscue, incomplete, oversized, smudged, etc.) of which 730,923 already printed. The number is only over 1 percent of the ballots that were printed.
She explained that spoiled ballots will be shredded and will be disposed after May 9.
“As a security measure, these ballots will be shredded and shall only be disposed after the conduct of elections,” the poll body official said.
It can be recalled that printing of the ballots officially started on February 18, after being postponed several times.
Bautista said the deployment of the ballots will begin on April 25.
“The start of the deployment is April 25… although tanong ko din sa kanila bakit hindi natin bilisan pero ang problema kapag mabilis mo dinala magtatagal sa isang lugar na hindi masyado secure… so we have to make sure that it is deployed at the right time and to ensure that security is in place,” he said. PNA/ northboundasia.com