Comelec warns voters: Forget selfies in precincts
MANILA, Philippines — No selfies, please.
Commissioner George Garcia of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) warns voters, especially first-timers, against taking pictures of their accomplished ballots on May 9, Election Day.
He also discourages voters from listing down their chosen candidates on their cell phones to avoid being accused of photographing their filled-out ballots.
“We are not banning cell phones, that’s not in the [voting] guidelines,” Garcia said in an online news forum on Sunday.
“But our advice to the public, especially to the first-time voters, is don’t take pictures in the [polling] precinct. Don’t take selfies there anymore. Voting is not for selfies anyway,” he added.
Taking photos of or making copies of one’s ballot after voting is strictly prohibited since it could be used for vote-buying or vote-selling.
Violating ballot secrecy is considered an election offense.
A practicing election lawyer before he was appointed to the Comelec on March 9, Garcia also advised voters to write down the names of their chosen candidates on a piece of paper instead of typing these on their cell phones.
“It’s best not to use your cell phone to save your ‘kodigo’ because you might be accused by some poll observers and watchers of taking a picture of your ballot. It’s strictly prohibited to take photos of the ballot and the voter’s receipt printed by the [vote-counting] machine,” he said.
COVID test not needed
“So you can bring a cell phone, just don’t use it while you are voting so that you will not face any complaints from a poll watcher that will be recorded in the minutes of voting,” he said.
Voters will not be required to present a COVID-19 vaccination card and a negative PCR or antigen test at polling precincts although they must wear a mask. A face shield will not be necessary.
But due to the pandemic, the Comelec has ordered that those found to have a temperature of 37.5 degrees Celsius or higher and exhibit COVID-19 symptoms will be taken to an area called an isolation polling place within the voting center.
They will be assisted by staff members who will get their ballots for them and also feed the accomplished ballots into vote-counting machines.
Meanwhile, although there are no restrictions on what voters could wear on Election Day, Garcia warned them against overt campaigning.
According to him, voters can come dressed in clothes of any color, although they should not wear something with the name or picture of a candidate since the campaign period officially ends on May 7.
Also, while voters do not need to present proof of their identities as long as their names are on the official list of voters, Garcia still advised them to bring an identification card just in case any poll inspector or watcher asks them for it.
Voting on May 9 will take place from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
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