May 4, 2016, 2:35p.m. – FILIPINO voters will experience upgraded “automated” elections on May 9 with new counting machines.

The National Commission on Elections (Comelec) will hold its third automated elections using vote counting machines (VCM), instead of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines that were used during the 2010 and 2013 elections.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the VCMs would run on an “extensively reviewed” source code that would prevent “malicious programming.”

“The VCMs run on a source code that has been extensively reviewed by both an international certification authority and local [information technology] experts and political parties. This is the best guarantee against the presence of any malicious programming,” Jimenez, also a psychology alumnus of UST, said in an email to the Varsitarian

The VCMs have new features. Unlike the PCOS machines, the VCMs have headsets, which can “read” the ballot to a visually impaired or illiterate voter. VCMs will also print out receipts to allow voters to review their votes, which they can also view on a screen on the machine.

Since the start of the year, the Comelec has been conducting public demonstrations of the VCMs in schools and malls to familiarize voters with the new machine.


Steps in voting

Before the election, voters need to verify their registration status and check their precinct through the Comelec’s precinct finder application available on the poll body’s website.

On May 9, voters should come early to the voting centers. Voting will start at 6 a.m. and end at 5 p.m., Jimenez said.

Inside the precinct, a voter must present an identification card issued by the government to the assigned member of the board election inspectors (BEI), to formally receive the ballot. 

The Comelec reminds voters to refuse the ballots in case they find that these are unclean or do not have an ultraviolet mark. 

In filling up the ballot, the voter must shade the entire oval corresponding to his or her chosen candidate, using a special marker to be provided by the BEI. The BEI will not provide another ballot if the voter committed a mistake.

“You can vote for less than the number of slots being voted for but you cannot vote for more, like voting for 13 senators instead of 12. Overrated positions will not be counted even though the rest of your ballot will remain valid,” Jimenez explained.

The voter then proceeds to the VCM and feeds the accomplished ballot to the machine. He or she must make sure that the machine reads the ballot by checking the “on-screen verification” on the VCM.                                               

The BEI will then mark the voter’s finger with an indelible ink to signify that the vote was officially cast.

Jimenez reminded voters not to tear the receipts issued to them. The voter must drop the receipt in a designated box before leaving the polling place. To ensure confidentiality and protection, voters are prohibited from taking a photo of their ballots.


Making the wise vote

Jimenez urged voters to report vote-buying attempts as soon as it is safe to do so.

“Do not sell your vote. If you choose poorly, or if you let others do the choosing for you, you will likely be not satisfied with the leadership you will have,” Jimenez said. Kathryn Jedi V. Baylon and Roy Abrahmn D.R. Narra


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