Comelec rolls out vote-counting machine roadshow in Baguio

BAGUIO CITY — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday rolled out a four-day roadshow to inform voters about the vote-counting machine (VCM), eyeing city officials and employees as participants.

“Para malaman ng lahat ng botante kung ano ang proseso ng pagboto on election day at kung paano ma-process ang makina na magagamit on election day na rin (So that voters would know the processes for the election and how the VCM works and will be used on election day),” Comelec-Baguio election officer John Paul Martin said.

Baguio’s schedule is from January 28 to 31 and on February 28. The roadshow will also be brought to Benguet and the rest of the Cordillera region for demonstration.

On Tuesday, the roadshow will be held at the University of Baguio with about 150 students as participants; Wednesday, for the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) and its parishioners; and Thursday, for the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.

February 28 is devoted to media practitioners in Baguio.

“We are focused on voters and not targeting basic sectors. The more sectors are reached, the better,” Martin said.

During the activity at city hall, Martin said the VCM is an upgraded version of the one used in the 2016 national and local election.

He said it is faster in terms of processing the ballot inserted and it issues a high-quality, updated, and verified receipt.

He added that the VCM reads the bar code printed on the ballot that contains the precinct number for compatibility and has a simpler menu that is more convenient and manageable to the board of election inspectors.

Martin explained how to use the VCMs and gave tips on how to fill up the ballot.

These are: use the official marking pen; shade fully and do not extend up to the next oval; do not over-vote as there is no way to erase the excess, which would invalidate all the votes on the particular position but not the votes in the whole ballot; do not mark anything other than the oval.

The ballot, he said, can be inserted from whatever side and the voters receipt will be issued immediately after.

Martin said the VCM that would be used for the mid-term election was installed with more security features to safeguard the integrity of the election.

The voter’s receipt will contain the names voted, verifying that the machine counted the votes.

He said the receipt is left with the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) and placed in a separate compartment, which can be accessed in case of an election protest.

A trial session was conducted with the interested official filling up and inserting the ballot, and receiving the voter’s receipt.

Lawyer Melchor Carlos Rabanes, who was one of those who tried to cast his vote, said he under-voted for the councilor position and over-voted for the mayor position.

The receipt showed the result counting the votes of the councilors while the mayor position said “over vote,” and did not credit a vote to any of the candidates.

He said he hopes the Comelec would also come up with another upgrade of the system where the voter could remove the over-vote.
Councilor Mylene Yaranon also expressed concern that the voter’s receipt would lead to vote buying with the owner allowed to take a photo of the receipt.

“There is no guideline yet as to the prohibition (of) taking a picture of the receipt, as well as the prohibition (of) bringing a cellphone inside the precinct,” Martin said.

He said the roadshow would be brought to Benguet after January 31, with each municipality having one schedule each. PNA –