Comelec voters' education program in Koronadal City deemed successful
by Rotchelle M. Padua
Koronadal City (8 February) --The Commission on Election here declared they have achieved their objective to educate voters about the automated elections on May 10.
Candidates for the local election, representatives from the local government units, non-government organizations, civic and religious organizations, the media, and students from the host school attended the voter's education program on Friday, February 5, at the SMC Hall of the Notre Dame of Marbel University (NDMU).
Atty. Jay Gerada, acting provincial election supervisor, said the Comelec has mobilized its personnel down to the barangay level for voters to better understand the poll automation.
Atty. Gerada said that Comelec gives so much focus on voters' education because voters, the candidates and the Comelec "will have to undertake birth pains because the conduct of automated election will be the first time."
Ma. Dorothy D. Losa, acting election officer of Polomolok, South Cotabato anchored the discussions.
Among the highlights of the discussion were the special features of the 8.5 x 30 inches ballot: the barcodes, configuration to a specific precinct, blue and green ultraviolet inks, and the unseen 340 images on the ballot.
"With these, it's almost impossible to jeopardize the elections," Losa said.
She also discussed the different parts of the Precinct Count Optical Scanner (PCOS) machine. Without the ballot box, the machine weighs 14.2 kilos. Once the ballot box is attached to the machine, the weight becomes 20 kilos.
The machines will be brought to the precincts three days prior to the election to check their accuracy. Before the actual voting on May 10, the machines will print an Election Result (ER) with zero report as proof that no vote has been cast yet.
"Aside from the voting and counting, everything is done manually," Losa said.
"The voter will introduce himself to the Board of Election Inspector (BEI) and present a valid ID.
"On the ballot, the voter will shade the oval opposite the name of the candidate of his choice. He will personally feed the ballot to the PCOS machine.
"A message will appear on the Operating LCD screen as to whether or not the ballot has been accepted. If found to be valid and authentic, the message will be, 'Congratulations. Your ballot has been successfully cast.' Failure messages are: 'This ballot has been previously scanned' or 'Invalid ballot,'" she explained.
On May 10, voting starts at 7 am and ends at 6 pm to accommodate the 1,000 voters in a clustered precinct.
Voters are also reminded notto write any unnecessary marks on the ballot; to keep hands clean and dry; not to overvote (meaning, if only one candidate is needed for a certain position, a voter should mark only one candidate); and to fully shade the oval opposite the candidate's name.
No erasure is allowed.
The Social Sciences Department and Political Science Society of NDMU and the SK Federation of Koronadal City co-sponsored the voters' education program.
"This well-attended activity speaks of our strong interest to see history unfolding within our lifetime," said Noemi Silva, academic vice chancellor of NDMU.
She also challenged the youth to take active part in the election process not only because it is their right and duty but also because they will be the ones to choose future leaders who will bring the country way forward and beyond where it is right now.
The program was capped by an open forum where politicians and voters' queries were addressed. (PIA 12) [top]