Appeals to safeguard ballots as voters report faulty VCMs on elections day

May 9, 2022 - 11:44 AM
Teachers and volunteers prepare the voting precinct for the national election, in Magarao, Camarines Sur, Philippines, May 9, 2022. (Reuters/Lisa Marie David)

Filipinos are urged to be vigilant and keep an eye on their ballots following reports that some vote-counting machines (VCM) have broken down in the first hours of the elections.

Commission on Elections director James Jimenez on Monday answered a query from a voter who confirmed if it was okay to leave their shaded ballots in the precinct if the VCM breaks down.

“Kapag sira daw ang VCM, pwede daw po ipaiwan lang ang balota pagkatapos bumoto? Ok lang ba iyon?” a Twitter user asked.

Jimenez said that the voter has two options in such scenarios.

“Dalawang options (niyo). Bumoto at iwan ang balota, or maghintay hanggang pwede na uli magamit ang makina,” he answered.

Reports also said that officials have advised voters to leave their ballots to be processed once the VCM has been fixed or a new one has arrived.

Jimenez’s response was not appreciated by some Filipinos who raised concerns about the possibility of ballot tampering and fears of supposed cheating if they leave their ballots in the precinct.

“So many reports about broken VCMs. Please, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR BALLOTS until you have placed them inside working machines. Make your vote count!” television host Robi Domingo tweeted.

“A COMELEC official is just brazenly endorsing a method that makes you very vulnerable to ballot tampering. Do not leave your ballots. Do not let anyone else feed it into the machine,” another Twitter user wrote.

“Secrecy of the ballot kaya nga may folder? Anong sense if you are encouraging to just leave the ballot with a chance of other people seeing it?” another online user asked Jimenez.

RELATED: Voters reminded of ballot secrecy anew as 2022 elections day loom

As of Monday morning, the phrase “DO NOT LEAVE YOUR BALLOTS” reached the top trending list on Twitter Philippines.

In automated voting, accomplished ballots are fed into the VCM by the voter with assistance. They will wait for it to be processed and then a voting receipt would be released. They are encouraged to double-check the names of the candidates and groups to see if they were processed.

After which, their fingers will then be inked to indicate that they have already voted.

Under Comelec rules, voters have the option to leave their ballots and entrust them to the electoral board or wait for the VCMs to be repaired so that they could feed their ballots instead and personally double-check their receipts.

Those who decide to leave their ballots will be asked to sign a waiver of their right to be issued a voter’s receipt. Their ballots will then be placed in the envelope and then batch-fed by the electoral board before the closing of polls.

Meanwhile, former senator Bam Aquino, the campaign manager of presidential bet Vice President Leni Robredo, appealed for voters to stay inside the precincts until they had received their voting receipts.

He also shared numbers where voters can call their volunteer lawyers if they encounter faulty VCMs and are threatened.