Voters on info sheet: Something’s missing

Camille Dawn Fabrero

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Voters miss the official sample ballots -- free from biased lineups -- that the Comelec used to send

MANILA, Philippines – Two days before the midterm elections, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) should have prepared Filipinos well to cast their votes on Monday, May 13.

However, with Comelec’s decision to stop mailing sample ballots to individual voters, Filipinos now have to resort to the online medium, as well as other means, to satisfy their need for information to vote.

This year, the Comelec mailed each voter a Voters’ Information and Instruction Sheet (VIIS) that excludes sample ballots. Instead, it contains voters’ personal information, instructions to vote, and instructions to access the Comelec website for sample ballots.

The Comelec was supposed to have sent these to voters by April 12.

Ferel Lopez, a 20-year-old student from Manila, noticed the VIIS she got from the Comelec didn’t have a list of senatorial bets.

Lopez, however, said she still found the VIIS useful. She said it will help her find her way to her polling precinct, for instance, on election day.

For 52-year-old Annie Fabito, a long-time poll watcher, each voter should get an official sample ballot from the Comelec before they troop to the polls. She said this is necessary so they can see an unbiased list of candidates.

Based on her experience, she said, most voters get sample ballots from candidates during campaigns. Fabito said this is tailored to benefit particular candidates.

Maganda sana kung merong kumpletong listahan ng mga candidates kasi hindi naman lahat nakikita sa TV o sa mga posters. ‘Yung iba kasi hindi lang talaga kilala,” Fabito said. (It would be better if there was a complete list of candidates, because not everyone can watch the TV or see posters. The others are virtually unknown.)

The Omnibus Election Code, as amended by Republic Act (RA) No. 7904, requires the Comelec to send the following to each registered voter, through mail or any other “practicable” means: 

  • an unfilled official sample ballot

  • a voter information sheet

  • a list of all registered national, provincial, and city candidates running in the elections

Comelec chair Sixto Brillantes Jr explained that mailing sample ballots is no longer “compulsory” under the automated election system. The government implemented RA 7904 in 1995, within the context of a manual system.

In the Philippines’ first automated elections in 2010, however, the Comelec mailed sample ballots to all 50 million voters.

Did you ever receive your sample ballot? Tell us if you didn’t, through the comments section below or through Twitter using the hashtag #PHvote. –

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