SC order delays ballot printing
With only 109 days until the May 9 elections, the start of the printing of a record 64.7 million ballots was delayed after the Supreme Court ordered the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday to include two previously declared nuisance candidates in the ballot.
The Comelec, which was already behind its target starting date of Jan. 15, could not say when the ballot printing would begin.
“The printing committee, taking into consideration various technical factors, has moved the start of printing to a date yet to be announced,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said on Jan. 19.
He said the Comelec was still finalizing the ballot face template, adding that “this later start will not negatively impact the Comelec’s preparations for the elections.”
During the virtual walk-through of the National Printing Office (NPO) on Jan. 18, Comelec officials said the ballot face would be ready the next day.
Official candidate list
At that time, the official list of candidates had 10 candidates for president, nine for vice president, 64 for senator and 177 for party list seats.
But on Jan. 19, senatorial aspirant Norman Marquez, who was earlier declared a nuisance candidate by the Comelec, secured a restraining order from the Supreme Court against the Comelec decision.
On Jan. 20, vice presidential aspirant Wilson Amad, who had also been declared a nuisance candidate, also secured a restraining order from the Supreme Court.
The Comelec has not responded to media queries about how the last-minute restraining orders will affect the ballot printing schedule.
According to Comelec deputy executive director for administration Helen Aguila Flores, their target is for the NPO to print all 67,442,714 ballots by April 21, two weeks before the elections.
The NPO will start with printing 1,697,202 ballots for overseas voters, who will start voting on April 10, before it prints the rest of the 65,745,512 ballots.
This includes the ballots for local absentee voters—public officials and employees, including military and police personnel, as well as media members who will be temporarily assigned where they are not registered voters—who will vote from April 27 to April 29.
Overseas voters and local absentee voters will vote only for national candidates.
Flores said the NPO would use three printers that can print a total 1,100,000 ballots a day if they are operating at peak performance.
She said they have prepared for contingencies due to the raging COVID-19 surge, which has already sidelined some NPO employees.
Their contingency plans include scheduling by-batch work for the NPO staff and hiring a reserve pool of workers, said Flores.
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