VOTING GUIDE: How to properly cast your ballots

A PARTICIPANT of the mock vote during the final testing and sealing of the Vote Counting Machines (VCM) and Voter Registration Verification Machines (VRVM) at the Apolinario Mabini Elementary School in Iloilo City inserts his ballot in the vote counting machine on May 10, 2019. (Emme Rose Santiagudo)

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

THE voting period for the midterm local and national elections will officially start at 6 a.m. today, May 13, 2019, until 6 p.m.

After months of campaigning, candidates will vie for more than 18,000 national and local positions, according to Commission on Elections (Comelec).

In Iloilo City for instance, a total of 15 local positions will be up for grabs. The seats are for the member of the House of Representatives (1), mayor (1), vice-mayor (1) and 12 members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP).

Based on data from Comelec-Iloilo City, four bets are vying for the lone Iloilo City district seat, seven for mayoralty seat, four for vice-mayoralty and 44 bets are eyeing for the 12 seats of the SP.

In an interview on Friday, Iloilo City elections officer Atty. Mavil Majarucon-Sia reminded the public of the steps that they need to follow on Election Day.

The first step is for the voter to identify his/her clustered precinct.

To make this easier, Comelec already requested the Department of Education (DepEd) to post lay-outs at the entrance of the polling precincts to guide the voters to the location of their established precincts.

“First step is to find out their clustered precincts, we requested the DepEd to put up lay-outs para pagsulod sa school mabal-an nila kung ano na assign sa ila nga precinct,” Sia said.

Sia said the voter will now have to wait at the holding room where the support staff will be assisting them for the start of the machine verification.

The electoral board (EB) will be in charge of the actual verification using the Voter Registration Verification Machine (VRVM).

In the region, only the province and city of Iloilo, Bacolod City, and Negros Occidental will use the VRVM machines which can verify if the voter is really a registered voter of the clustered precinct.

The machine has a fingerprint scanning mechanism to determine if the voter has a record in the system.

If the VRVM fails to produce the voter’s records, Sia said they can proceed with manual verification.

If the second option does not work, then the EB will have to manually check the Election Day Computerized Voters List and the voter will be asked for an identification card.

In unforeseen instances that no above-mentioned options work, the voter will be referred to the DepEd supervising officer (DESO) or the principal.

If the voter passes the verification, the VRVM machine will print a receipt which will then be presented by the voter to the chairman for the issuance of the official ballot.

“Once na ma-verify na, the machine will print a verification receipt which will be presented by the voter to the chairman of election board. Without the verification receipt, the chairman cannot issue the official ballot,” Sia explained.

When voting, Sia reminded the public to double check the official ballot and fully shade the ovals of their corresponding bets.

“We also would like to remind them na when they get the official ballot form the chairman, they should also check the ballots para bala ma-avoid ta man bala ang issue nga pre-shaded ang balota,” Sia said.

After shading, the ballot will be personally fed by the voter to the VCM machine.

“There will be someone who will assist the voter but it should be the voter who will personally feed his ballot to the machine,” Sia said.

After the process of voting, the voter will have to wait for a Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) to verify that the citizen’s vote has been correctly placed.

“Dira da makita kung tsakto ang gin-count ni VCM nga vote then after reviewing that, i-drop niya sa may receptacle, hatagan siya indelible ink, then he/she can go out,” Sia explained.

Meanwhile, she also encouraged the voters to bring “kodigos” to save time during voting.

“I encourage them to bring kodigo, para mas daisg ila boto kag indi pa nila paglipatan ila botohon. What is not allowed is ang distribution of sample ballots during election day,” she stressed.

In Iloilo City, Sia said they are expecting an 80 percent turnout of the 294,776 voters in the metro.