Voter vigilance meets faulty VCMs, poll violations | Inquirer News

Voter vigilance meets faulty VCMs, poll violations

By: - Content Researcher Writer / @inquirerdotnet
/ 06:15 PM May 09, 2022

IMAGE: Ed Lustan

IMAGE: Ed Lustan

MANILA, Philippines—Election-related issues like faulty vote-counting machines (VCM) and election violations are not new. Some voters in the country have already encountered such issues. This election period is no different for others.

This time, however, more voters have asserted their right to vote despite waiting in line for hours just to make their choices count.


More than ever, voters, as well as concerned netizens, began airing their election sentiments online. Many have reported election woes demanding for solution, while some reminded other voters to not fall prey to voting anomalies.


Amid increasing reports of issues hounding the 2022 national and local elections in the Philippines, voters have displayed increased vigilance against possible distractions and intimidation.

What are the options?

According to the Commission on Elections (Comelec), it has replaced 10 VCMs that have malfunctioned as early as 8:15 a.m., a little over two hours since voting precincts opened on Monday (May 9).

READ: 10 faulty VCMs replaced so far, says Comelec


GRAPHIC: Ed Lustan

The poll body said that some 1,800 VCMs have crashed but the issues have already been resolved. Comelec Commissioner George Garcia said these were the common problems that the VCMs had:

  • Paper jam: 940 cases
  • Rejected ballots: 606 cases
  • VCM scanner: 158 cases
  • VCM printer not printing: 87 cases
  • VCM not printing properly: 76 cases

Acting Comelec spokesperson John Rex Laudiangco said at a press briefing on the same day that elections will push through in areas with malfunctioning VCMs.

Comelec director James Jimenez said in a tweet that voters who will encounter faulty VCMs in precincts will be given two options.


“You have two options. Vote and leave your ballot, or wait until the machine starts to function again,” he said in Filipino.


GRAPHIC: Ed Lustan

The same options were briefly explained by Laudiangco at the press briefing, saying that ballots will be given to the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) and batch feeding will be conducted once a functioning VCM is available.

“Elections shall continue. It will not stop and people will be allowed to vote. But they will not be able to experience feeding the ballots to the machine but it does not mean it will not be counted,” he said.

“When the functioning VCMs arrive, we will batch feed the ballots under the watch of watchers and the accredited citizens’ arm. So there is no reason to stop the polls even if there are issues with VCMs,” he added.

READ: Voting to proceed despite VCM woes in some areas, Comelec assures

The options are part of the poll body’s established contingency procedures in cases where VCMs malfunction. The procedures have already been done in past elections, with the monitoring of watchers and accredited citizens’ arm.

Aside from choosing between leaving shaded ballots to BEIs and waiting, some voters were also told to go home and come back to their assigned polling precincts before 7 p.m. or before the voting period ends.

However, election watchdog Kontra Daya stressed that voters should have the option to wait for the VCMs to get fixed and replaced.

Kontra Daya said voters should not be deprived of the right to check if their votes were counted or not.

READ: Kontra Daya: It’s voters’ right to make sure their choices count

Guarding the ballots

Jimenez responded to a tweet by a netizen asking if it is safe for them to leave their shaded ballots and let the BEIs insert these ballots once functioning VCMs arrive in polling precincts.

“That’s safe. There are many watchers who will guard the process,” he posted in Filipino.

Still, many voters who aired election-related woes, specifically on malfunctioning VCMs, said they will wait until the VCMs in their assigned precincts function again before they cast their votes.

Posts on social media showing voter vigilance.

In a statement, election lawyer Romy Macalintal urged voters not to panic and to remain vigilant until functioning VCMs arrive in voting precincts.

“Your votes are sacred, even though there are watchers inside the precincts, it is better to wait and be vigilant until the replacements or fixed machines arrive so you can personally witness your ballots being fed in the machines,” Macalintal said in Filipino.

Cut-off places pressure on voters

Several online posts by voters also showed that some of those who have encountered faulty VCMs in their precincts were told that replacements for the malfunctioning machines might arrive on or after 7 PM.

Netizens expressed dismay, some of them anxious if their votes will be counted given that voting hours will only last until 7 PM.

Kotra Daya has called on the Comelec to extend voting hours beyond 7 PM following cases and reports of VCM breakdowns and long lines inside voting centers.

“With the volume of reports coming in to Kontra Daya regarding vote counting machine (VCM) breakdowns, as well as the longer time required to vote due to enforcement of health protocols, there is a high probability that many voters would be unable to vote by 7:00 p.m.,” the watchdog said.

“Media reports have stated that 1,800 vote-counting machines have malfunctioned, which translates to about 1.1 million potentially affected voters (or about 2% of the voting population). This is a substantial number, especially for electoral races that are tightly contested.”

Extending voting hours, according to Kontra Daya, will allow more voters to cast their votes and give more time for Comelec to resolve election-related issues.

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GRAPHIC: Ed Lustan

At a press briefing, Comelec chairman Saidamen Pangarungan said voters inside or within the vicinity of voting centers who have yet to cast their votes when voting closes at 7 PM will still be accommodated.

“We can extend the voting hours up to the time that we have accommodated everyone within the vicinity of voting centers,” he said.

Reporting election irregularities

Voters who encountered election-related issues—including VCM breakdowns, brownouts, and irregularities such as vote-buying, vote-selling, and other violations—can submit a report to Comelec, through the following voter care hotline numbers:

  • (02)8355-8416
  • (02)8355-8426
  • (02)8355-8408
  • (02)8355-8281
  • (02)8355-8453
  • (02)8277-2259
  • (02)8355-8230
  • (02)8355-8176
  • (02)8355-8136

Voters can also download and install the Namfrel app to file complaints or report election-related irregularities.

reporting online

GRAPHIC: Ed Lustan

Voters and netizens can also post complaints and reports online with the hashtags #VoteReportPH and #KontraDaya.

Kontra Daya is also accepting reports sent through email via [email protected] or through their website


TAGS: INQFocus, Leni Robredo

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