Selfies not allowed in polling precincts
CEBU CITY, Philippines – On election day, voters will have to fight the urge to take a selfie when they cast their votes.
A Commission on Elections (Comelec) official on Tuesday, April 5, reminded voters that they are not allowed to use their phone to take photos inside the polling place on May 9, unless they want to end up in police custody.
Voters, watchers, and members of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) are also not allowed to take photos of the ballots and voters’ receipts, as this violates the sanctity and secrecy of the ballot, Mandaue City Election Officer Ferdinand Gujilde said. Doing so constitutes an election offense.
Posting on social networking sites who you voted for, though, is not prohibited as it is one’s personal right to divulge the names of candidates they chose.
“As a voter, you can bring a phone with a camera inside the polling place but you cannot use it. As a watcher, you can bring a camera and use it, provided it does not violate the sanctity of the ballot, meaning you cannot take a photo of your official ballot or the voter’s receipt,” Gujilde said.
The use of cameras inside the polling places – the classrooms where voters will cast their vote – is among the prohibited acts that Gujilde brought up during the "Tell it to Sun.Star" roundtable discussion on Tuesday.
When asked if taking a selfie is prohibited, he said: “As a voter, you’re not allowed because voting is not about you, it’s about the country, so why take a selfie?”
Gujilde said those who insist on using their cameras inside the polling place may be taken into custody by the police, but their gadgets will not be confiscated.
Another prohibited act concerning voters is bringing the voter’s receipt out of the polling place, since these should be placed inside the voter’s receipt receptacle.
Those who bring home the receipt, perhaps as a souvenir or to show to the candidates they voted for, will face at least one year and up to 6 years imprisonment without probation, plus perpetual disqualification from holding government office. Also, they will no longer be able to vote.
Gujilde admitted that the Supreme Court ruling mandating the issuance of voters’ receipts presented a couple of challenges to the poll body, but he gave assurances they are prepared to deal with it on May 9.
For one, they are concerned that the printing of receipts will take a lot of time – 30 seconds for one receipt – and those waiting outside might lose patience and might be discouraged to vote. There will be up to 800 voters in every polling place.
“It might affect voter turnout,” said Gujilde.
The poll officer is also concerned that the receipts will be subject to abuse by those who want to sabotage the elections by arguing that the votes they cast were not accurately reflected in the receipt, to delay the voting process by creating a commotion inside the polling place.
“The BEIs will assert supreme authority in the polling place. If a voter creates a commotion, that voter might be, as a last resort, taken into custody by the police or military to maintain peace and order inside the polling place,” he said.
Since the process of casting votes will take longer than in previous elections, the Comelec moved the start of the voting period one hour earlier, at 6 am.
Those waiting outside the polling place may still vote after 5 pm, provided they are within 30 meters from the door of the classroom at 4:45 pm and were able to give their name to the BEI.
To ensure that the election in May will be peaceful and orderly, Senior Supt. Rey Lyndon Lawas, Police Regional Office’s (PRO) VII deputy regional director for operations, said the police will be ready to respond to any commotion in voting centers.
PRO VII will deploy 5,000 police operatives across the region, or 80% of their personnel.
“The deployment of policemen will not only be focused on polling centers. We will include perimeter areas where supporters of candidates will possibly converge…. If we are allowed to, we will try to dissipate the crowd to prevent taunting by opposing camps. We hope the candidates will be responsible enough to advise their supporters to behave and be calm,” said Lawas.
The C-Cimpel (Cebu-Citizens’ Involvement and Maturation in People’s Empowerment and Liberation) will also assign 2 to 3 volunteers per polling place.
C-Cimpel, the political arm of the Archdiocese of Cebu, has 7,000 volunteers across the province, composed of parishioners, seminarians, priests, and religious congregation members.
Laila Labajo, area coordinator for C-Cimpel in Bantayan Island, said their volunteers are trained to assist both the BEIs and the voters, particularly in locating their polling place and explaining the voting process to voters.
As for those who doubt the reliability of vote counting machines, the same issued raised against the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines in the 2013 polls, Gujilde assured there are safeguards to prevent tampering with the machines and manipulation of results.
The issuance of the voter’s receipt is one, and another is the random manual audit of votes, where randomly selected ballots from polling precincts will be counted manually.
“With questions on the accuracy and reliability of the PCOS, as far as I know, all those results that were challenged before the court were manually counted and almost always, the manual count matches the results of the PCOS machines. So I guess that’s the best evidence that the PCOS machine before and the VCM this election will be reliable,” he said.
Lawas, Labajo, and Gujilde urged the public to help their agencies ensure that the election on May 9 will be peaceful and orderly by being vigilant, and by reporting illegal acts and testifying against offenders.
Lawas specifically asked the candidates to remind their supporters to be calm, especially on election day, to avoid any violence.
“We really hope that the election will become peaceful. Peacefulness, success and credibility of the election are not up to Comelec alone but it depends on all of us. We hope that the population, especially the voting population, will be responsible enough not only to cast their vote but also to accept whoever will win after,” Labajo said. – Rappler.com
Who won in the 2016 Philippine elections?
Check out the 2016 official election results through the link below:
- 2016 official election results for Presidential, Vice Presidential, Senatorial, and Party list elections
Check out the 2016 unofficial election results for the national and local races through the links below
- 2016 Philippine Presidential Elections
- 2016 Philippine Vice Presidential Elections
- 2016 Philippine Senatorial Elections
- 2016 Philippine Congressional Elections
- 2016 Party List Elections
- 2016 Philippine Local Elections