What voters should expect when vote counting machines malfunction

May 13, 2019 - 4:36 PM
Casting ballots in a vote-counting machine (The STAR/Roel-Pareño)

Vote-counting machines (VCM) in some precincts were found defective and caused unnecessary burden among the electorate during the mid-term polls on May 13.

Some Filipinos shared on social media how their voting got delayed due to broken VCMs.

Facebook user Stephanie Tang attached a photo of a list of voters’ names in their precinct because their VCMs are not working.

“The voting machines in our precinct aren’t working, so the precinct officers instructed us to cast our votes but leave the ballots with them. This means we cannot witness our ballots being fed into the machine; otherwise, we have to wait until 6pm for COMELEC to replace the machines,” Tang said.

She said that the piece of paper serves as the “receipt” until the machine gets fixed by 6 pm.

“Is this even legal?” Tang asked. She had since deleted her post.

One user was able to make a copy of it.

Similarly, Twitter user @rainbart also aired her frustration of not being able to see the receipt of her votes because of the broken machines.

“Watchers are telling people that they can shade their ballots and leave as watchers will cast their ballots later when machine is fixed,” she said on Twitter.

She also questioned if it’s legal for voters to just leave their ballots in a clear plastic bag provided to them.

“Is that even legal? Voters are told they can just leave their shaded ballots without seeing their receipts,” the user asked.

Mayoral aspirant Vico Sotto in Pasig City, reelectionist Grace Poe and former Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay in Makati City also saw faulty machines while voting.

Sotto waited until the equipment was repaired before casting his vote, while Poe was asked to return to the voting site later in the afternoon.

Binay, meanwhile, filed a complaint after the VCM failed to receive his ballot eight times.

Several areas also experienced similar incidents with the voting machines earlier on Monday’s polling day.

Some machines were immediately replaced while other precincts resorted to manual ballot checking to move on with the voting process.

Contingency plan

The electoral board is required to inform voters of two options, according to Resolution 10497.

The EB acts as official deputies of the Comelec in supervising the elections of polling areas.

Entrust ballots to the EB

EB will inform voters that they may proceed with casting their votes without being issued receipts.

“For this purpose, EB shall temporarily place shaded ballots inside the envelope for rejected ballots, half of torn unused official ballots and other half of torn unused official ballots and counted official ballots.”

Wait for the VCM to get repaired

EB will inform voters that they may wait until the equipment is repaired or gets replaced before casting their votes.

Rejected ballots

According to Resolution 10460, ballots can be rejected for three different reasons—the VCM was not able to scan it properly, the ballot has a duplicate ID and the ballot is not configured to the VCM.

If the VCM still won’t scan the ballot, the chairperson of the EB shall mark it “rejected” and put it in the envelope for rejected ballots.