What Boto Mo Patrollers should do on election day
- Beth Morrissey () - April 25, 2010 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Last week a Boto Patroller who participated in overseas absentee voting (OAV) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia logged onto the Boto Mo, iPatrol Mo: Ako ang Simula (BMPM) website (bmpm.abs-cbnnews.com) and posted a blog entry about her experience. She was disappointed at how elections went at the Riyadh embassy because the Commission on Elections (Comelec) was using carton boxes secured by packing tape instead of ballot boxes. Another Patroller, also voting in Riyadh, noted the carton ballot boxes, and wrote in his blog post that indelible ink was not applied to his finger after voting.

Dindo Amparo of ABS-CBN’s Middle East Bureau followed up on these complaints, eventually filing a story for “TV Patrol,” which included information from Vice Consul Roussel Reyes, in charge of OAV in Saudi Arabia. Reyes said the Comelec did not send indelible ink for OAV, and that the election staff was told instead to implement other security measures. Reyes also said that the ballot boxes, supplied by Comelec, had enough security seals to safeguard the ballots.

This story from Riyadh is just one example of how Patrollers have enhanced ABS-CBN’s coverage of newsworthy events over the past year. On May 10, 2009 ABS-CBN launched its most recent incarnation of BMPM, asking citizens to register as Boto Patrollers and prepare to patrol the May 2010 elections. Since then over 75,000 people have registered as Patrollers, and BMPM has contributed to ABS-CBN’s coverage of major events, including the passing of former President Cory Aquino, the destruction caused by typhoons “Ondoy” and “Pepeng,” the Maguindanao massacre, and the campaign season for the 2010 elections.

As election day approaches, BMPM is relying on Patrollers to enhance ABS-CBN’s election coverage by filing reports about the mechanics of voting and counting in their precincts, and by supplying background and contextual information about politics in their communities.

Observe voting at precinct

ABS-CBN’s first pictures of the victims of the Maguindanao massacre came from a Patroller, as did ABS-CBN’s first pictures of the December 5 Jolo explosions. Patrollers have repeatedly shown that they can get the story before professional reporters.  

On May 10, 2010 BMPM wants Patrollers to get the scoop about what is happening in their communities.

Those who are voting should take note of the step-by-step process they have to undergo in order to cast their ballot.

Patrollers should ask themselves:

How are the identities of voters being checked?

Is there a precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machine in the precinct, and is automated voting taking place?

How are ballots being filled out?

What is being done with the ballots after they are filled out?

Patrollers who are not voting can also file reports by observing what’s happening in their precinct, or by interviewing a selection of people who voted.

Patrollers who can stay inside or near their precincts should report on how voting progresses throughout the day.

During the 2007 interim elections, a Patroller in Batangas called BMPM to report that her precinct had been set on fire. ABS-CBN was able to deploy a team to Batangas immediately to cover the story as it was happening. Likewise, during the 2010 elections, all Patrollers have the power to report instances of wrongdoing immediately. On election day Patrollers should look for instances of vote buying, voter intimidation, or other kind of irregularities.

Share your story and give context

Patrollers contributed to ABS-CBN’s coverage of the Maguindanao massacre by supplying background and contextual information about the Ampatuans. In the weeks following the massacre, Patrollers sent tips about the Ampatuans’ wealth and alleged connections to arms dealers. These tips shaped how ABS-CBN covered the massacre and the events that unfolded afterward. During the coming elections, BMPM is asking Patrollers to supply background and contextual information about their local politics. Through reports like these, Patrollers can help the rest of the country understand and analyze election-related events happening in their communities.

Patrollers have also enhanced ABS-CBN’s coverage of important events by sharing their personal stories. During the coverage of Cory Aquino’s passing, one Patroller sent to BMPM a picture of himself as a ten-year-old boy giving the former president his piggy bank to support her presidential campaign in 1986. This story and others like it added a human touch to ABS-CBN’s coverage of Aquino’s passing. Likewise, through BMPM, Patrollers can share their personal stories about the 2010 elections. BMPM wants to hear the stories from first-time voters, from people who are particularly hopeful or cynical about the elections, and anyone who wants the rest of the country to know about their election day story.

Observe counting and share results

After voting has concluded, Patrollers should observe the counting process. Patrollers should note, step-by–step, how counting is conducted.

Patrollers should ask themselves:

How are votes being counted? Are the PCOS machines being used or some other form of counting taking place?

Who is conducting the counting process?

How are the votes being transmitted from the precinct to the Comelec municipal office?

Once voting has concluded, the PCOS machine will produce a receipt that is supposed to be posted in the precinct. Patrollers should try to take a picture of the receipt, or at least write down the results, and send them to BMPM. If there is a blackout, Patrollers should immediately send a report to BMPM, and then track how, and if, counting continues after or during the blackout.

BMPM is about listening to people who witness newsworthy events first-hand. On election day, BMPM encourages all citizens to submit reports about the events in their community, because on May 10, everybody’s vote matters and everybody’s story matters.

Patrollers can submit reports by emailing a message to ireport@abs-cbn.com, by texting iREPORT<space>names, address, gender, age, followed by the report to 2366, by calling  (02) 411-BMPM and leaving a voicemail, and by uploading stories to bmpm.abs-cbnnews.com.

The author is Princeton-in-Asia Fellow at ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs.

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