The Commission on Elections (Comelec) assured the public that the printing of 67.4 million ballots will be completed in time for the 2022 elections, despite COVID-19 constraints.
During the Comelec’s virtual media walkthrough of the National Printing Office (NPO) on Tuesday, January 18, the poll body disclosed some crucial target dates for the printing of official ballots:
- January 19 – start of printing of manual ballots for overseas voting, local absentee voting
- April 12 to 21 – printing of last set of ballots for local voting
The election body said a contingency plan includes tapping a reserve pool of workers and a batching system being put in place – should a COVID-19 outbreak hit the NPO in Quezon City or should a virus surge slow down operations.
“This is a very modest timeline that includes buffer for contingencies. For the apprehension that this pandemic situation will really hamper our timeline, we are foreseeing that,” Comelec printing committee vice chairperson Helen Aguila Flores told reporters.
“We are really hoping that we will be able to finish the printing on time. If we will be printing 67 million ballots and we will start printing tomorrow, we are confident we will have a buffer period for eventualities,” Flores added.
Some 65.754 million ballots will be printed for local voting, and 1.697 million more for overseas voting.
The media walkthrough saw the Comelec play a pre-recorded video of the printing process in the NPO, where health protocols have been implemented to minimize COVID-19 risks.
Three printers will be used for the printing of ballots, and another one is ready as backup. The machines could produce up to 1.1 million ballots daily, the Comelec said.
The printers will introduce security features to the ballots, such as QR codes and invisible ultraviolet authentication marks.
Ballots showing errors are segregated and quarantined, and evaluated as to whether they can still be retrieved.
The poll body partnered with the military, police, and the Bureau of Fire Protection to secure the printing of ballots.
“Our strict protocols in the printing of ballots are a testament to our responsibility to safeguard the sacred vote of every Filipino,” said outgoing Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas, who also graced the virtual event.
The Comelec said on Monday, January 17, that the ballot face for overseas absentee voting is ready, although it has yet to be uploaded on the poll body’s website.
The names on that ballot constitute the final list of national candidates for the 2022 polls. – Rappler.com