ELECTION DAY IRONY

Teachers on poll duty may not be able to vote

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Teachers acting as election officers sit on ballot boxes as they wait at the treasure’s office in Isabela, north of Manila on October 24, 2010. AFP FILE PHOTO

Public school teachers who will man the elections on Monday may themselves not be able to vote.

A teachers’ group posed this ironic scenario to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) based on the teachers’ experience in the last automated elections in 2010.

“We get a lot of lip service about how we are the most credible sector to man the elections, but in the simple matter of voting we cannot get any special treatment,” complained Emmalyn Policarpio, secretary general of the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition.

The Comelec does not allow the three teachers assigned to every Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) to cast their vote in the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machine to which they are assigned.

In order to vote, these teachers have to leave their station to go to the election precinct where they are registered, which is not necessarily located within the same polling place where they are assigned.

In the last elections, according to Policarpio, teachers were given only 20 minutes to vote, taking turns since they could not afford to be gone from their station for too long.

“Even if (the polling precinct) is in the same city or town, they still have to take a tricycle at least. Then they have to fall in line there. They can’t get back in time; 30 minutes is not enough,” she said.

Before automated elections were introduced in 2010, deputized public school teachers could vote in the polling precinct they were assigned to even if they were not registered there.

For the May 13, 2013 elections, some 240,000 public school teachers will man the precincts during the polling hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“It’s ironic that we facilitate the elections but we will be disenfranchised,” Policarpio said.

Advanced voting confusion

She said they were not satisfied with the local absentee voting provided by Comelec last April 28 to 30 for teachers, soldiers and even members of the media who will perform election duties and who may cast their votes early.

Policarpio said the absentee voting was only for national positions and they received reports of confusion in the Comelec offices during the absentee voting period. She said the teachers who went to the Comelec offices could not find their names in the list of registered voters of their precincts.

Policarpio said many teachers in Manila encountered such problems and they do not discount the possibility that other teachers elsewhere had the same dilemma.

First posted 10:33 pm | Friday, May 10th, 2013

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