MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is expecting to save millions of pesos by replacing the padlocks on ballot boxes with serialized plastic seals and by forgoing the purchase of thumbmarkers used in getting the thumbmarks of voters.
Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. told reporters that they are replacing padlocks because they are heavy and bulky and do not have serial numbers. They can also be easily opened and closed again without leaving any signs of tampering, he said.
“Padlocks are expensive and heavy. We decided to use small plastics seals that have serial numbers,” Brillantes said. “If it is tampered it cannot be replaced [and] we can check it through its serial number.”
Padlocks with key would cost around P125 per unit while the plastic seals cost around P30 per unit. At least 270,600 units of padlocks are needed or 452,000 units of plastic seals.
A ballot box would require at least four padlocks or seals.
Brilantes said that the padlocks would have cost the Comelec around P32.4 million while plastic seals, based on computations, will cost around P14 million.
“That’s a big difference, more than 50 percent would be saved. The padlock is the most expensive,” Brillantes said.
“Under an automated system, the ballots do not require so much protection because there are already picture images [of the ballots],” he said.
Brillantes also said that voters will no longer have to place their thumbmarks when they vote. They will only have to put their signatures.
“When voters have their thumbmarks taken before voting, it might smudge on the ballot,” Brillantes said.
The ballots have a tendency to be rejected by the Precint Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines if there are stray marks on it.
“Technical examination on whether the person voted will depend on the signature,” Brillantes said. “Anyway biometrics of voters now have photos.”
Because they no longer need thumbmarks, the Comelec will be able to save around P12.4 million from the purchase of thumbmarkers which cost P24 each, Brillantes said.