Starweek Magazine

Lights, Camera, D-Day!

- Arlene Burgos -

MANILA, Philippines - We’ve waited a year for this. And in the deep crevices of our hearts, we know that we as a nation are in a collective prayer for peaceful and honest elections. But, like the rest of the country, we at Boto Mo iPatrol Mo: Ako ang Simula (BMPM) know that this kind of ideal democratic exercise will never be delivered to us on a silver platter. We will have to work for it, and earn our place among the community of democratic countries that delivers mandates to leaders we choose through credible transitions of power.

Having said that, BMPM enjoins its army of more than 75,000 Boto Patrollers to march on to polling precincts, exercise their right to choose their leaders, and ensure that that right is protected.

The year since BMPM was launched has seen this army grow, be trained and get used to reporting or submitting tips and visual materials about events that unfold in their communities. Tomorrow, May 10, 2010, as the nation goes through one of the most important elections in its history, we count on the entire Philippines to join this army that guards democracy and patrols the vote. 

10 Commandments to avoid fraud in your precinct

Kontra Daya, a coalition of organizations and individuals committed against election fraud, has prepared 10 tips on how voters can prevent fraud in their areas.

ABS-CBN’s BMPM has partnered with Kontra Daya, among other organizations, to patrol elections. We encourage everyone to take these 10 steps.  

1. Look for your assigned precinct and your name on the voters’ list early.

2. Make sure the ballot is clean and free of marks before accepting it from the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI). Do not accept ballots with marks or dirt because the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines may be unable to read them. Spoiled ballots will not be replaced.

3. The BEI should scan ballots so voters can see their ultraviolet (UV) marks. This would prove that the voters were given original ballots. Do not accept ballots without UV marks.

4. Make sure the PCOS machine reads your ballot. If the machine rejects the ballot, you have four tries to insert it again in different orientations.

Voters are allowed to fix ambiguous marks or the improper shading of ovals. The BEI should also explain why the ballot was rejected. It might not be the voter’s fault and the PCOS machine might be broken.

If a machine has rejected several valid ballots, it has to be replaced.

5. Do not over-vote, otherwise the PCOS machine will not read the votes for that position. Make sure you fully shade the ovals, or the machine might reject your ballot for having “ambiguous marks.” You will not be given another ballot if you make a mistake while voting.

Meanwhile, the use of ballots to sabotage the PCOS machines is strictly prohibited.

6. If a precinct runs out of ballots, a voter can still cast his vote in the next nearest precinct. The BEI should accompany the voter after giving the latter a certification.

7. Only the BEI can hand out ballots. Not even local officials, Commission on Elections (Comelec) personnel and Smartmatic technicians can interfere. Also, no one should tinker with the PCOS machines during voting time.

8. Voters should make sure they sign the voters’ list at the start, and have their fingernail marked with indelible ink at the end. This is one safeguard against flying voters.

9. The allotted voting time is from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Voters who are within 30 meters from the precinct or are still in line after 6 p.m. can still vote. They should have their names listed down by the BEI. Voting should continue until everyone within 30 meters of the precinct or in line has voted.

10. Armed police, military, paramilitary forces, security guards, barangay officials, armed goons and supporters of politicians who are campaigning are barred from the polling precinct. The BEI should send them out.

7 signs how elections are going

Tomorrow, BMPM encourages Boto Patrollers to log on to bmpm.abs-cbnnews.com and plot out in a map completely made up of user submissions the status of voting in their precincts. BMPM’s partner, Kontra Daya, has prepared a list of items that voters should be watchful for.

Boto Patrollers should watch out for these signs, and then plot out in the BMPM map if the situations being described have fallen into any of the BMPM’s seven map categories.

ABS-CBN news programs will also be reminding voters at various times tomorrow about what should be happening at particular hours during the day.

Here are the seven updates that Boto Patrollers can plot into the BMPM map to indicate the situation of their precincts

1. Voting started – Have people started voting? Are all paraphernalia in and everything in order?

2. Voting delayed – Did the election officials come on time? Were there certain paraphernalia that prevented voting from starting on time? Was there confusion in the precinct that caused the delay?

3. Long queue – Have people been waiting in lines? Has there been a noticeable lag in schedule that caused people to wait long?

4. Transmission failed – Did the PCOS machine fail to transmit the results? How many times was transmission tried?

5. Transmission successful – Did transmission go smoothly?

6. Manual count – Did the precinct have to resort to manually counting the ballots?

7. Failure of election – Has there been a declaration in your precinct that the exercise failed for whatever reason? 

Boto Patrollers will also be well-advised to be ready with their “voting kit” containing the following: notebook, ballpen, flashlight, and of course, the ultimate Patroller trademark gadgets – cell phone and camera. 

We may have done all preparations, but there is no way we could divine how things will turn out tomorrow. Amidst this kind of uncertainty, we can only appeal to Boto Patrollers to be ready to do the best they can in contributing whatever they could to patrol our votes and, in effect, our democracy.

March on, Boto Patrollers, history beckons!

The author is New Media Manager of Boto Mo, iPatrol Mo: Ako ang Simula of ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs.

Editor’s note: This is the final installment of our series on the elections, as part of our commitment to help citizen voters participate constructively in this historic poll exercise. This series is an initiative of STARweek in cooperation with non-partisan groups such as Boto Mo iPatrol Mo, and does not involve any politician or political party.

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