Old habits hound voting in Bukidnon despite automation

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/10 May) — Aside from PCOS units that malfunctioned, voters in Malaybalay City, Valencia City and other towns of Bukidnon had to contend with Philippine elections’ old, nasty habits of missing voters’ names and messy voting procedures.

In many precincts of Malaybalay only an average of 200 voters or less had voted as of 11 a.m. A clustered precinct here has between 600 and 1000 voters.

The slow pace of voting disappointed many voters who had to wait in the rain for their turn to enter the precincts. Some went home before their priority numbers would be called.

In Barangay Kalasungay here voters were told to form a line. Later, however, the Board of Election Inspectors issued priority numbers enabling some latecomers to vote ahead of those who came earlier.

Voters also grappled with automation resulting in a few ballots that PCOS machines refused to read. The BEIs attributed the problem to the wrong way the voters handled the ballots, for example, incorrect manner of shading.

Reports gathered by radio station dxDB said that some PCOS machines in a few precincts across the province malfunctioned but that Smartmatic replaced them with standby units.

Comelec sent a total of 1106 PCOS machines to Bukidnon, 77 of which served as backup units.

At the Valencia City Central School, some 1,000 voters had asked for assistance at the precinct finder desk of AMA Computer Learning Center as of 4 p.m. said Benzam Villaganas, a technician at the desk.

Villaganas said at least 10 percent of those who approached them failed to find their names in the computer database provided by the local office of the Commission on Elections. MindaNews suggested looking in Comelec’s website but he said they did not have internet access at the school grounds. (H. Marcos C. Mordeno/MindaNews)