Your step-by-step guide to voting in May 13 elections

Sofia Tomacruz

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Your step-by-step guide to voting in May 13 elections
You get only one ballot and one chance to vote. Here’s a brief guide on what to expect and how to prepare for Election Day.

MANILA, Philippines – Are you ready to vote on Monday, May 13?

With the 2019 national and local elections only weeks away, millions of Filipinos will decide who will get to lead the country in Congress and local posts for the next 3 years. Votes cast on election day, May 13, will chart the course of the Philippines long after ballots are cast and polls close.

While voting is a simple process, little errors like using your cell phone to take a photo of your ballot or showing up in the wrong polling precinct may cause you to lose the chance to vote.

You get only one ballot and one chance to vote. Here’s a brief guide on what to expect and how to prepare, based on demonstrations by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Before heading out to vote

What time and where to vote: All over the country, polls will open at 6 am and close at 6 pm. The Comelec decided to extend voting hours as it expects some queuing to take place since there is an estimated maximum of about 1,000 voters per vote-counting machine (VCM).

Double check and familiarize yourself with the location of your polling precinct, or where you will cast your vote. You can check this online through the Comelec’s precinct finder or its hotline at 526-7769.

Prepare before the day: Prepare your list of who to vote for before election day. The Comelec wants voters to know who to vote for before May 13, to avoid making accidental markings on ballots, which may be read by VCMs.

You can bring your list of who to vote for, but remember you cannot bring campaign materials.

On voting day, bring water to keep cool during the summer heat as lines can get long.

Voters needing assistance, such as persons with disabilities, can also bring a companion to help them. In polling places, teachers serving as election workers are also on stand by to assist voters.

VOTERS. Early morning voters at Bagumbayan Elementary School in Taguig City during the 2016 elections. File photo by Pat Nabong/Rappler

At the polling place

In voting places, you can expect the following to take place:

STEP 1: Identify yourself

Look for your name on the voters’ list posted by your polling precinct. This is where you will verify that you’re a registered voter in an area designated by the Comelec, and what room in the precinct you will go to vote.

Certain areas will also make use of the Comelec’s new voter registration verification machine (VRVM), which uses live fingerprint scanning technology to verify a voter’s identity and whether or not he or she is registered in a certain precinct.

Check if you’re among the 14 pilot areas using this and what to expect here. You can also watch a quick demo of how to use the VRVMs below:


STEP 2: Get your ballot

Once this is done, approach the board of elections inspectors (BEI) chairperson to get your ballot, ballot secrecy folder, and marking pen. There is no need to bring your own pen as the Comelec’s marking pens are designed for its ballots and VCMs.

If you’re in an area using the Comelec’s fingerprint scanning machine, the BEI chairperson will issue you these materials after the machine issues you a verification receipt.

PROTECT YOUR VOTE. No one else is allowed to see your ballot. Protect it using the Comelec ballot secrecy folder. Do not take photos or makes copies of your ballot. File photo by Rappler

STEP 3: Choose your candidates

Ballots are divided by positions up for election: senator, House of Representatives member, mayor, vice mayor, and party-list.

Vote only for the number indicated by each position:

  • Senator – vote for a maximum of 12 candidates
  • House of Representatives – vote for a maximum of 1 candidate
  • Mayor – vote for a maximum of 1 candidate
  • Vice mayor – vote for a maximum of 1 candidate
  • Party-list – vote for a maximum of 1 group

Ballots will also contain portions for members of the sangguniang panlalawigan, sangguniang panglungsod, and sangguniang bayan, whose number of maximum posts up for grabs varies per area.

Take note, you cannot vote for more candidates than what it listed beside each position as this can invalidate your vote. You can vote under, or abstain from choosing the maximum number of candidates.

VOTING. Members of the Philippine National Police queue as they exercise their right to vote during the start of the local absentee voting at the NCRPO headquarters inside the Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City on Monday, April 29. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

The Comelec has already posted sample images of ballots per area for voters to familiarize themselves with. Check them here.

As you vote, refrain from placing extra markings on your ballot. The Comelec suggests filling out the entire circle beside a candidate’s name to make sure it is counted by the VCM.

Do NOT use your phone while you vote and do NOT take a picture of your ballot. This may be considered an election offense.

STEP 4: Cast your ballot

After filling out your ballot, keep it inside the ballot secrecy folder. Bring this to the VCM and insert it into the machine.

Do not leave right away. Wait for the machine to process your ballot. Once this is done, a poll clerk will mark your finger with indelible ink and will give you your voting receipt to review.

Check your voting receipt to see if it correctly reflects who you voted for.

INKED. A finger is marked with indelible ink at Bagong Silang Elementary School, Caloocan City during the 2018 barangay elections. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

If the receipt does not match who you voted for, bring it to the BEI to register your complaint. This will then be put on record.

If the receipt matches who you voted for, drop it in the voting receipt box once done. Voters are not allowed to leave precincts with their voting receipt. The Comelec says this is to protect the secrecy of the ballot and deter vote buying.

Once this is done, you’ve finished voting! Before you take a photo of your inked finger, remember to do it only when you’re outside the polling place. –

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers defense and foreign affairs. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz.