Comelec gives last minute reminders for election day
May B. Miasco (The Freeman) - May 13, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Over 61 million registered voters nationwide will troop to different polling centers in today’s midterm elections, where a total of 18,072 elective seats are up for grabs, including 12 slots for senator and 61 for party-list representatives.

This election marks the longest voting hours the country will have so far. It will run for 12 hours – from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

In Cebu there are 3,082,261 registered voters that are expected to elect new sets of local officials today and the Commission on Elections has a few reminders for them and those participating in the conduct of the elections.

Provincial election officer Ferdinand Gujilde reminded the public to vote only according to the maximum number of candidate(s) allowed for a position.

For example, if the voter is allowed to vote for only one mayor, he or she should only vote for one candidate. Going beyond the maximum number is called overvoting and overvoting will be tantamount to a spoiled vote because no candidate will get the vote.

Voters can bring mobile phones and cameras when they vote but they are not allowed to use them inside the polling place.

Meanwhile, poll watchers can bring mobile phones and cameras but cannot use them to take photos or videos of an accomplished official ballot.

Members of the press, too, are prohibited from taking photos or footage of accomplished official ballots.

"We have to protect the sanctity and secrecy of the ballots. The sanctity and the secrecy of the ballots mean that nobody can force a voter to divulge the names of candidates he or she voted for, not even the court, not even the Supreme Court," Gujilde said.

He explained further, though:

"But that is waivable because this is personal right. If the voter is tactless, he or she can actually divulge the candidates he voted for but outside the polling place."

Poll watchers are also prohibited from engaging in a verbal protest or harassing the Electoral Board members. If they have complaints, they can file a written protest before the Comelec.

Those allowed to enter the polling place are voters, members of the Electoral Board members and support staff, poll watchers, Comelec representatives, technical support staff, jail or prison escorts, and other people authorized by Comelec.

Except when they vote, the following are not allowed at the polling place: members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, members of the Philippine National Police, peace officer or any armed person belonging to any extra-legal police agency, special forces, reaction forces, strike forces, and other similar forcers or para-military forces like security guards or barangay police officers (tanods).

Barangay tanods are non-partisan and they are not allowed inside the polling place and within the 50-meter radius from the polling place. (FREEMAN)

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