Voting going well in GenSan despite ‘usual problems’

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/28 October) — Usual problems like missing names of voters and campaigning by some candidates hounded anew the start of the voting on Monday in various polling precincts in the city, but officials said the ongoing elections in the area have been so far running smoothly and generally orderly.

Lawyer Jose Villanueva, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Region 12 assistant director, said their monitoring showed that all designated polling centers and precincts within the city have been operating normally and have not encountered any major problems in connection with the conduct of polls.

“So far, so good. Our polling precincts were all functioning right now,” said the official, nearly four hours after the voting officially started.

Villanueva, who is also the acting city election officer, said they have not yet recorded any major untoward incident in the area in relation to the ongoing barangay elections.

Several polling centers were submerged by floodwaters as a result of the heavy rains on Sunday night until early Monday but eventually subsided, sparing the operations of the polling precincts.

The floods were reported in several public schools in barangays Baluan and Labangal that were designated as polling centers.

The city Comelec has set up 704 clustered or grouped precincts out of the 1,752 established precincts in in 26 barangays in the city.

Comelec, which listed the city’s total registered voters at 239,319, has designated a total of 55 polling centers in the area.

A total of 79 candidates are currently running for barangay chair and 793 others are seeking barangay council seats.

As to the missing names of some voters, Villanueva said they earlier advised the teachers who were serving as board of election tellers (BET) not to accommodate anybody whose name is not included in the final voter’s list.

He said the voter’s lists were produced by the Comelec central office and all the names listed were considered to have passed the biometric comparison or the automated finger print identification system adopted by the agency.

The final list of voters was already cleaned up of double registrants and those with expired registration, he said.

The official said it’s possible that some voters were already delisted due to their failure to vote in the last two elections.

“We can’t allow those whose names are missing on the list to cast their votes even if they have a voter’s identification card. They just have to come to our office after the election so we can verify their status,” Villanueva said.

In a polling precinct in Barangay Lagao here, he said the city Comelec received complaints that some voters were not allowed by the BETs to cast their votes after supposedly failing to present their valid identification cards.

The official said such situation happens when the BETs could not ascertain or have doubts with the identity of the voter.

But he said they resolved the situation by allowing the concerned voters to just sign the “oath of a challenged voter” form.

Meantime, Villanueva said they received reports that several candidates were seen doing some campaigning within the polling centers.

He said they have advised some concerned residents to document the matter and report them to the established police assistance centers. (MindaNews)