Comelec: Ballot printing on schedule
WITH A shorter ballot to be printed, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is optimistic it will meet the original April 25 deadline to produce a total of 56.7 million ballots for the May 9 elections despite having faced a series of delays.
After a one-week lag, Comelec Chair Andres Bautista Monday oversaw the official start of the printing of ballots at the National Printing Office (NPO) in Quezon City, where more than 600 people have been assigned to complete the task in less than 70 days.
“You will see that there is really a big difference in the ballots that we will be using for the elections,” Bautista told a press briefing after giving reporters a walk-through at the NPO.
Bautista said the Comelec improved the face of the ballot, which significantly shortened its length compared to the ballots used in previous elections. “This is the reason why we will still meet the original deadline,” he said.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the ballot had been shortened by 7 to 9 inches. “It now measures 8.5 inches by 20 inches,” he said.
He noted that the ballots for absentee voters would be shorter still since it won’t include local candidates, while those in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) would be longer because it will include Arabic translations of voting instructions.
Bautista said the list of candidates for the 2016 elections was relatively shorter than for the 2010 elections. There are only six candidates for president on the May 9 ballot, while there were 10 candidates six years ago.
The list of candidates for president still included the name of the late Rep. Roy Señeres since his party, the Partido ng Manggagawa at Magsasaka, had manifested that it was fielding a substitute candidate.
Independent candidate Sen. Grace Poe is also on the ballot pending resolution of her disqualification case in the Supreme Court.
There were eight vice presidential candidates in the 2010 elections, while this year there are six; there were 61 senatorial candidates six years ago, 50 candidates this year; there were 187 party-list groups in 2010 and 115 this year, said Bautista.
Bautista said that with three printers to be used—two of them leased by technology partner Smartmatic-TIM from Holy Family Printing Corp.—the Comelec could print more than the original estimate of 800,000 ballots a day.
According to Comelec printing committee head Genevieve Guevarra, the NPO can print 1.1 million ballots per day at peak. The printing will be carried out 24/7 from Monday to Sunday with staff working two shifts, 7 a.m.-8 p.m. and 7 p.m.-8 a.m.
The first ballots to be printed will be for the overseas absentee voting (OAV), followed by that to be used for the local absentee voting (LAV), and then the ballots for far-flung areas like the ARMM, said Guevarra.
The Comelec will print more than 1.189 million ballots for the OAV and 40,000 for the LAV. It will print 54,363,844 ballots for the regular voters. No buffer ballots will be printed, said Bautista.