MANILA — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) vows to complete the printing of more than 56 million official ballots for the May national and local elections in 71 days, or by April 25.

In a press briefing after the walk-through of the National Printing Office (NPO) in Quezon City, where the ballots will be printed, Comelec Chairman Juan Andres Bautista assured that all the ballots will be printed before the deadline.

“Basta ang among pangako April 25 on schedule ang aning mga balota,” he said.

A total of 56,772,230 ballots composed of the number of registered voters in the country and Overseas Absentee Voters (OAV) will be printed.

The National Printing Office (NPO) officially started printing ballots on Monday. The first ones to be printed are ballots from far-flung areas to be followed by the overseas absentee voting (OAV), and then the nearby places.

“Nagsimula na kami magprint ng mga balota na gagawin sa May elections,” he said.

The NPO will be using three OEC Canon printers to print the official ballots.

Bautista noted that the ballots will have three variations, majority of which will be shorter from the 8 ½ x 27 inches used in the 2010 polls to 8 ½ x 20 inches this year.

In the 2010 polls, 10 candidates ran for president, while 6 are running in the forthcoming elections. For the Vice-Presidential position, 8 participated in the race 6 years ago. In the May 2016 polls six joined the presidential race.

Sixty-one senators ran in the 2010 elections while 50 are running in this year’s polls.

The ballots for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) will be longer measuring 8 ½ x 24 inches, compared to the size of the majority of the ballots since they included the (Arabic) translation on the ballot.

The OAV will be shorter since voters will only select national positions namely: President, Vice-President, Senators and Party-lIst group.

Lawyer Genevieve Guevarra, head of the Comelec Printing Committee, said that the NPO workers would undergo two shifts, the first shift of which is from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m, while the second shift or night shift is from 7 p.m. to 8 a.m.

She also said that the printing of the ballots will initially be rated at 100,000 to 200,000 ballots per day and eventually increased to 1.1 million per day.

Guevara noted that there were currently 1,335 paper rolls at the NPO, the other 1,800 are in the warehouse of Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) in Las Pinas since they cannot accommodate them for lack of space.

There are 180 people working in printing section, 400 in verification, 25 to 40 in packing and shipping, which are employed by the Comelec while the NPO has 60 to 100 employees.

There will be no printing of the ballots on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Ferdinand Patinio/PNA