VOTE PH: Step-by-step guide to voting, do’s and don’ts
MANILA, Philippines—In about 24 hours from now, the fate of the country will be decided by over 65 million registered voters as they make their choices for national and local officials known on the ballot on May 9 (Monday).
The elections this year, however, will be slightly different from previous ones as the Commission on Elections and authorities implement health and safety protocols amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In this article, INQUIRER.net will give some tips on what or how to prepare for the elections, ways to vote safely amid the threat of COVID-19, a step-by-step guide in voting and some elections do’s and don’ts.
Preparations before Election Day
First off, before heading out to vote on May 9 (Monday), voters can check where they will cast their ballots and their precinct number—or whether or not their voting status is still active—through Comelec’s online precinct finder or the website https://voterverifier.comelec.gov.ph/voter_precinct.
To know more about how to use or navigate the Comelec’s precinct finder website, read this detailed guide on how to find voting precinct online: Finding voting precinct online: A step-by-step guide.
Before Election Day, it is also advisable for voters to prepare a list of who they will vote for. This can prevent mistakes, such as shading the oval appearing before the name of the candidate they do not wish to vote for or making accidental markings on ballots.
Making a list of candidates can also help voters get to know more about the candidates and their platforms.
Voters can visit the profiles of each presidential, vice presidential, and senatorial candidate—including party-list groups—on Vote Pilipinas’ website at https://votepilipinas.com/index.html.
Vote Pilipinas—a non-profit, non-partisan online and offline information campaign aimed at mobilizing Filipinos to register to vote for the 2022 national and local elections—is the official voter information campaign partner of Comelec.
The COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, has impacted the upcoming elections, resulting in some changes in election-related policies and the step-by-step voting process.
Compared to previous elections, this year, the poll body had to formulate a slightly different voting process and consider the health and safety of the voters, the Electoral Board, poll volunteers, and people inside and near the vicinities of voting centers.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19 on Election Day, which will be held from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on May 9, standard health and safety protocols are required.
These include temperature checks, physical distancing, wearing of face masks at all times, and frequent disinfection of the hands as well as frequently touched surfaces.
Step-by-step guide on voting
According to Comelec guidelines, the step-by-step voting process is as follows:
- Voters must have their temperature checked before entering voting centers.
- Voters will then proceed to the Voters’ Assistance Desk (VAD) to secure their precinct and sequence numbers and assigned room or clustered precinct.
- After the second step, voters can now go to their assigned room and state their name, precinct, and sequence numbers to the Electoral Board.
- Voters will then be given their ballot, ballot secrecy folder, and marking pen.
- After receiving the said items, voters can proceed to the voting area where they can fill out the ballot by fully shading the oval appearing before the name of the candidate they wish to vote for.
- After accomplishing the ballot, voters will be asked to feed it into the Vote Counting Machine (VCM).
- Voters may check their voter receipt and then deposit it in the receptacle.
- Lastly, the right forefinger nail of voters will be stained with indelible ink.
The poll body also issued a different step-by-step guide for voting if the voter is part of the vulnerable sector. The voting process for these voters is as follows:
- Voters who are part of the vulnerable sectors must first go to their precinct and look for the priority lane reserved for senior citizens, persons with disabilities (PWDs), and pregnant women.
- Next, voters must present a valid government ID to the facilitator.
- Voters will then have to wait for their turn and cast their vote inside the precinct. The poll body advises voters from vulnerable sectors to bring a “cheat sheet” or a list of candidates they want to vote for to make the process easier for them.
- Once done, they should proceed to the VCM and insert their ballots. Headphones will be provided for senior citizens, PWDs, and illiterate voters so they can clearly hear and follow VCM instructions.
- Indelible ink will be applied to the voter’s forefinger nail as proof of voting.
- Voters can review their voter receipts. Once done, they must drop it into the receipt receptacle.
After following these steps, you have officially voted for this year’s National and Local Elections.
Do’s and don’ts
Aside from following and maintaining the standard health and safety protocols at all times, the poll body reminded the public of some election do’s and don’ts to prevent any issues or errors during the voting process.
These reminders include:
Do not over-vote
Voters are strictly advised to not over-vote. Voting for more than the maximum number of candidates allowed would invalidate their vote.
It should also be noted that there will only be one ballot per voter. To avoid over-voting, vote only for the number of seats required per position:
- President: Vote for 1 candidate only
- Vice-president: Vote for 1 candidate only
- Senator: Maximum of 12 candidates
- House of Representatives: Vote for 1 candidate only
- Governor: Vote for 1 candidate only
- Vice governor: Vote for 1 candidate only
- Board member: The number of seats per district varies.
- Mayor: Vote for 1 candidate only
- Vice Mayor: Vote for 1 candidate only
- Councilor: The number of available seats per municipality, city, or district varies.
- Party-list: Vote for 1 group only
Voters can, however, choose to undervote or abstain from choosing the maximum number of candidates per position.
Properly shade the ovals next to the names of chosen candidates
Voters must fully shade the entire oval next to a candidate’s name.
The vote will not be acknowledged or counted by the VCM if voters leave or make an x-mark, check, or half-shade, instead of a full-shade.
To help properly shade ballots, the poll body also reminded voters to use only the official marker given by the Board of Election Inspectors.
Do keep ballots clean
Voters should avoid making extra markings on the ballot. They are also reminded not to fold, crumple, or tear the ballots to avoid encountering any issues when inserting the ballots into the VCM.
The machine will reject the ballot if it detects any accidental marks on the ballot, aside from the shadings for the candidates. If this happens, voters will not be given another chance to cast their vote.
Do not bring campaign materials
While voters are allowed to bring a cheat sheet or list of candidates, bringing any kind of campaign material inside or within the vicinity of voting centers is highly discouraged. Therefore, T-shirts, stickers, ballers, towels, flyers, fans, or any item bearing a candidate or party’s name, picture, or number are not allowed.
Do not commit any election offense
Do not take pictures of the accomplished or filled-out ballots. Do not keep, take pictures, or bring home voters’ receipts. These are all prohibited and are considered election offenses.
Markers and ballot secrecy folders should also be returned to the BEIs after casting votes.
And lastly, vote wisely.
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