MANILA, Philippines?Voters will likely use a ballot nearly two feet long with the names of 300 candidates for national and local offices printed on each face, back to back, in the upcoming automated elections on May 10.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has created an initial design for the 20-inch-long ballot that will be fed into machines in the country?s first nationwide computerized balloting, according to the poll body?s spokesperson, James Jimenez.
?It?s not final,? Jimenez said. ?We are awaiting the final names of the candidates.?
Since the ballots for 2010 will be printed with the names of local and national candidates, each district will have a different ballot, which will be finalized after the filing of the certificates of candidacies in the last week of November.
In the past elections, voters wrote their choices on a piece of paper, which is counted by the Board of Election Inspectors at the end of the voting day.
On May 10, voters will choose their candidates by shading the small circle beside the name of the politician in an 11-point typeface that is clean, with no serifs, like the Arial, said Jimenez. The ballot will then be fed into a machine, which will read and record the markings.
Space more than enough
Jimenez said the length of the ballot ?should be more than enough? to fill in all the candidates for the different elective posts.
The tentative design is not as unwieldy as the 3-foot-long ballot earlier presented to the Comelec by officials of Smartmatic-Total Information Management group that won the bidding for the computerized balloting.
The Comelec is scheduled to test the initial design among focus groups soon, Jimenez said.
In an update on the current registration exercise that started late last year, the Comelec said that an additional 2.6 million new voters had been registered. The deadline for registration of new voters is on Oct. 31.
Some 45 million voters were registered in the last election.
But Jimenez announced that the Comelec had rejected the suggestion of some groups to extend the registration period for overseas absentee voting (OAV) that ended on Monday.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said that about 204,720 new voters were enlisted in the OAV process, putting the number of Filipino registered voters abroad at half a million.
Jimenez said the Comelec ?cannot afford? to extend the deadline.
?The deadline was set for a reason and the reason was for the preparations for the elections, for the allocation of the ballots,? he said.
Migrante International, a group advocating the rights of overseas Filipinos, had been pushing for the extension of the registration period up to the end of 2009 to give more time for those abroad to register.
The youth group, Kabataan, had also asked the poll body to lengthen the local registration period to enable more students to register.