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Comelec mock elections begin in 9 provinces

CAGAYAN, Philippines – Nine provinces hosted the mock elections of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Saturday, February 13, with over 20,000 voters expected to participate.

The provinces include Cagayan, Pangasinan, Sorsogon, Aklan, Cebu, South Cotabato, Zamboanga del Norte, Sulu, and Basilan.

Saturday's voting began at 7 in the morning. The Comelec said there will be a manual audit of votes after to compare the results with the vote-counting machine (VCM).

In Centro 1 in Tuguegarao City, at least 20 votes were cast more than two hours since the mock elections started. This is a low turnout compared to the expected 461 voters.

Tuguegarao is just one of the 40 areas where simultaneous mock elections are happening nationwide. The elections are also happening in 3 cities in Metro Manila.

Mae Sagadraca, election assistant from the Comelec's central office in Manila, said they successfully installed the machine around 7:10 am – 5 minutes before the first voter arrived. 

Although they had difficulty entering the ballot of the first voter because it was a bit crumpled, Sagadraca said the VCM is doing well so far.

She said the diagnostics of the ballot were eventually accepted and recorded after several attempts.

Jopy Velasco, village chairman of Centro 1, said he found the mock elections an opportunity for his constituents to practice the new voting system.

But he expressed his disappointment because he thought the machine would actually show his votes the moment it was accepted by the VCM. 

"I hope the Comelec will consider that for more transparency," Velasco told Rappler.

Superintendent Jessie Tamayao, police chief of Tuguegarao, considers the mock elections a dry run for their police forces to see what else needs to be done for the May 2016 elections.

"We have enough personnel for the security of people involved in this mock election…During this mock election, we have to make the proper observation. We have to know the concerns and problems encountered," Tamayao said. – Rappler.com