MANILA, Philippines (5th UPDATE) – Former vice president Jejomar Binay was not able to immediately cast his vote on Monday, May 13, after the vote-counting machine (VCM) repeatedly rejected his ballot.
Binay, who is running for congressman, went to his polling precinct at the San Antonio National High School past 7 am on Monday. He was only able to vote after nearly 3 hours.
After shading his ballot, Binay tried several times to feed the document into the vote counting machine (VCM), but it kept rejecting his ballot.
A visibly irked Binay went out of the classroom after speaking to several polling officers inside.
“Galit ako! Galit ako! Bakit nadisenfranchise ang boto ko (I’m furious! Why was my vote disenfranchised)?” Binay told reporters, adding there should be no reason for his ballot to be rejected as it had no stray marks.
He shared that the ballot of the voter who was ahead of him was rejected as well. Binay said that when the other voter got the ballot, it had some dirt on it, so the VCM considered it a stray mark.
Gina Iligan, San Antonio High School principal, said the VCM had encountered a paper jam. She told Rappler they would try to feed Binay’s ballot into the VCM again once the issue has been resolved.
Binay believed there would likely be more rejected ballots in Makati, where two of his children are slugging it out in the mayoralty race: reelectionist Mayor Abby Binay and former mayor Junjun Binay.
The family patriarch said he would proceed to the main office of the Commission of Elections to complain about his rejected ballot.
In the 2016 elections, technology provider Smarmatic said around 188 VCMs had to be replaced
Comelec comes in
At around 9:30 am, Binay went to the Comelec’s temporary headquarters at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City to report his rejected ballot.
Binay had a brief closed-door meeting with Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez to discuss this issue, after which Binay and Jimenez held a joint press conference.
He managed to vote past 11 am.
Jimenez explained that the problem in Binay’s precinct was the VCM, and the VCM “has been replaced.” He said Binay was now returning to the his polling precinct, accompanied by Comelec Director Frances Arabe.
Asked what voters should do if they encounter similar problems, Jimenez said, “Make sure that your ballot is preserved by our boards of election inspectors.”
“We will have to study this situation very closely because we don’t want this to be a problem for the rest of the day,” Jimenez said. – with a report from Paterno Esmaquel II/Rappler.com
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