MANILA, Philippines – A few hours after the polls for the 2019 midterm elections closed at 6 pm on Monday, May 13, transmission of votes was a struggle in different areas of the Philippines.
Because of the weak connection in the far-flung schools of Palompon town, teachers had to move to the town hall to send the poll results from their vote-counting machines (VCMs) at 7 pm on May 13.
Sschools that were affected include Sabang Elementary School, San Juan Elementary School, Tinabilan Elementary School, Lomonon Elementary School, Taberna National High School, and San Joaquin Elementary School.
Commission on Elections (Comelec) Palompon Officer Elvisa Tiu told Rappler that the teachers were instructed to transmit data from their VCMs at the town hall, after letting poll watchers from their areas sign in agreement with the Electoral Board to transfer the machines.
“Gi-instrakan namo nga magpapirma sa mga watchers didto, magsabot sila sa EB (Electoral Board) and i-put into writing didto sa ilahang minutes of voting. Then, pwede na sila muanhi nalang dinhi sa munisipyo aron dinhi nila isend ang resulta,” Tiu said.
(We instructed them to let watchers from their areas sign, agree with the Electoral Board, and put the actions into writing. Then, they can go here in the Town Hall so that they can send the results.)
At 10:40 pm, the Comelec-Palompon Municipal Board of Canvassers recorded 29 out of 50 barangays for a successful canvassing of votes.
The last batch of teachers and other volunteers packed the election paraphernalia after successfully transmitting the polls results and sealing the receipts past 12 midnight on Tuesday, May 14. (READ: Election 2019 technical issues: Paper jams, malfunctioning machines)
While it has achieved 93.55% transmission of results by Monday night, the city of Baguio also experienced some delays at the canvassing at Fidel V. Ramos Gym.
Election assistant Flor Barroga attributed the failure in transmission to two technical problems: the weak signal in some areas of the city, and the defective SD card in a voting precinct in Pinsao Pilot.
City election officer Reyman Solbita said that SD cards from the voting precincts with poor connection, Upper Dagsian and Engineer’s Hill, will be delivered to the canvassing venue wth better signal.
The defective SD card, which was unreadable, will be raised to the national office, as per Comelec guidelines. However, Barroga said it might take some time as there was a queue for such concerns, and they would have to wait for the national office’s reply. If successful, the National Technical Support Center (NTSC) will provide them a code to activate a blank SD card to replace the defective one. (READ: Comelec says 400-600 vote-counting machines replaced)
Through this process, the SD card gets to retain the same results. Barroga also said that there would be watchers and witnesses during the whole process of replacement and feeding of the ballots to the VCM to ensure the security and integrity of the votes.
Barroga said she was unaware of the reason why the SD card malfunctioned. She also said that the replacement was expected to arrive on Tuesday, May 14.
In the municipality of Alabel, Sarangani, barangays Datal Anggas and New Canaan experienced delays in the transmission of votes due to slow internet connection. SD cards from these areas would be sent to Barangay Poblacion for canvassing of votes.
According to election officer Sharon Hamid, they expected the SD cards to be passed early Tuesday, May 14, once poll watchers and Comelec officers from the two barangays travel to the Poblacion to fully transmit the votes for canvassing.
“Umulan kanina kaya mahirap ang daan. Baka madisgrasya pa (It rained a while ago so the road was hard to traverse. They might get into an accident),” Hamid said. – with reports from Marthy John Lubiano, Janric Bayao, and Rhoda May Ebad/Rappler.com
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