MANILA, Philippines – Many voting precincts on Monday, May 9, started opening way past 6 am, the scheduled start of voting, due to malfunctioning machines. This caused long lines and crowding in key areas across the country.
At the Senior Citizens’ Hall Heroes Hills in Barangay Sta. Cruz Quezon City, voting precincts started late due to the absence of signal for the vote counting machines (VCMs). The seniors were able to start casting their ballots by 7 am, according to YB Padilla, a voter in the precinct.
“The seniors are more prone to crowding which should have been avoided considering we are still in the pandemic,” said Padilla.
Malfunctioning SD cards also caused delays at North Susana Executive Village in Barangay Matandang Balara, Quezon City. Voters from precincts 4384-A, 4384-B, and 4384-C were asked to leave the line and wait as the SD cards were being fixed.
“Voters were asked to wait, and come back at 2 pm since contingency machines will come from Sta Rosa Laguna or just cast their votes but the poll watchers will insert the ballots for them once the machines are working/replaced,” said Raymond Varilla.
This is also the case in Sauyo Elementary School in Novaliches, Quezon City. Around 7 in the morning, the first batch of voters in cluster CP1639 were told that the SD card has been corrupted. According to Nicky Felipe, a voter in the said precinct, they were advised to do manual voting.
“Sinabi niyang [staff] mag manual voting na lang kami. Magsasagot daw kami ng balota, tapos sila ang magfe-feed sa machine once dumating ang bagong SD card. Humahaba na ang pila at inip na ang tao…Isa kami sa mga unang batch ng boboto sa cluster namin. Bakit corrupted agad,” said Felipe.
(According to one of the staff, we can proceed with manual voting. We can fill out a ballot and they can feed it to the machine once a new SD card arrives. The lines are long now. We are supposed to be one of the first to vote in our cluster. Why is it corrupted already?)
According to Kontradaya, “in cases where there are malfunctioning VCMs, voters have the option to allow BEI to feed the ballots but they shall sign a waiver. Ideally, however, voters should be the ones to do so and may opt to wait for the VCM to be repaired or replaced.”
In past elections where VCMs encountered technical glitches, Comelec’s established contingency procedures give the voter two options: let the electoral board batch-feed the ballot at a later time with watchers present, or wait for the VCM malfunction issue to be resolved so the voter could personally feed the ballot into the machine.
Personalities, movers, election watchdogs, and other individuals reported similar incidents at different precincts across the country: