This photo taken May 13, 2019 shows early voters looking through the list of precincts at Sta. Ana Elementary School in Manila City. Toledo IV
What to do when faced with technical glitches, poll irregularities
Kristine Joy Patag ( - May 13, 2019 - 3:14pm

MANILA, Philippines — The 2019 midterm election is the Philippines' fourth automated election and it records a year of first: A record number of voters and the longest voting hours so far.

But same problems beset the elections day. The Legal Network for Truthful Elections or LENTE, this Commission on Elections' citizen arm, reported malfunctioning vote counting machines and voter registration verification machines as some of the cause of voting delays in some areas.

READ: Malfunctioning machines, power outage cause delay in morning of election

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers and Teachers’ Dignity Coalition also said, in separate statements, that they received reports of malfunctioning VCMs and VRVMs on the grounds.

Such technical glitches affected voters from all walks of life, including former Vice President Jejomar Binay who marched to the PICC, which houses the Comelec headquarters for the elections, early Monday morning to complain after the VCM at San Antonio National High School failed to read his ballot after eight attempts.

At a press briefing after a closed-door meeting with Binay, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the problem lies with the machine that Binay used. He said the VCM has since been replaced.

FOLLOW: Live updates: Senatorial election in the Philippines | Live updates: Metro Manila local elections

If the ballot was rejected

The government poll commission, on April 12, 2016, issued Resolution 10088 which provided that in case vote counting machines reject the ballot during scanning, the Board Election Inspector shall allow the voter “to re-feed the ballot four times in four different orientations.”

The resolution read:

If the ballot is still rejected, the voter shall return the ballot to the chairman who shall:

  1. Distinctly mark the back thereof as REJECTED;
  2. Require all members of the BEI to sign at the back thereof; and
  3. Place the rejected ballot inside the Envelope for Rejected Ballots

The same Comelec resolution noted that “no replacement ballot” would be given to the voter “except if the rejection of the ballot is not due to the fault of the voter.”

It also noted: “Any party objecting to the rejection of the ballot shall reduce his objection in writing, which the BEI shall attach to and note in the Minutes.”

Contingency for malfunctioning VCMs

A separate resolution from the Comelec, issued Feb. 13, 2019, provides steps should the VCM malfunctions:

Comelec Resolution 10497 provides that the Department of Education Supervising Official-Technical Support Staff would first solve the issue of the machine.

Should it remain unfixed, the matter would be elevated to the National Technical Support Center.

The DESO-TSS and NTSC would work to troubleshoot the matter.

But if an hour has passed and the VCM continues to fail, the contingency VCM would be retrieved from the regional hub or other hubs designated by the Comelec and be brought to the polling place.

While waiting for the election officers to resolve the issue or the contingency VCM to arrive, the Electoral Board shall announce to the voters the following options:

i.) To proceed in casting their votes by shading their ballots which shall be batch-fed by the EB before the close of polls. In this case, the EB shall inform the voters that this constitutes waiver of their right to be issued voters receipt. For this purpose, EB shall temporarily place shaded ballots inside the Envelope for Rejected Ballot, Half of Torn Unused Official Ballots, and Other Half of Torn Unused Official Ballots, and Counted Official Ballots.

ii.)  To wait for the VCM malfunction to be resolved or the replacement VCM to arrive, for them to cast their votes and personally feed the ballot in the VCM.

FROM TSEK.PH: Viral post on defective vote counting machine misleads

Report to authorities

Presidential Anti-Corruption Commissioner Greco Belgica also offered options for the Filipino voter to note issues during the election period.

BusinesWorld reported that Belgica offered at least five things to do when a voter encounters a problem:

  1. Report to the Board of Election Inspectors.
  2. Look for members of the press.
  3. Don’t leave the precinct until the issue is fixed.
  4. Send us a copy of your report.
  5. Make sure that those you voted for are those transmitted.

LENTE has also opened hotlines and social media accounts for reporting of deemed “irregularities” for the elections:

  • Landline: (02) 502-15-91
  • Globe: 0917-1066265
  • Smart: 0947-1644158
  • Twitter: @lente_ph
  • Facebook: LENTE Philippines

For teachers who are working for the elections, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers group has opened new hotline numbers to report electoral fraud and anomalies:

  • Globe: 0956-3846859
  • Smart: 0961-3111956
  • Landline: (02) 2839669

—  with a report from BusinessWorld/Arjay Balinbin

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