Comelec asks SC to reconsider ruling
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Friday asked the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision ordering the poll body to issue voter receipts, expressing doubts it could still deliver a credible elections on May 9 due to time constraints.
Nonetheless, the Comelec took its first steps yesterday to comply with the decision by opening the bidding for one million rolls of thermal paper on which to print the receipts.
In its 13-page motion for reconsideration, the Comelec pleaded with the high court to “consider the timing” of the order and argued that “numerous audit trails” were already available to protect the sanctity of the vote such as the paper ballot itself, the ballot image, storage media cards and an on-screen verification function. The Comelec offered to conduct a demonstration of the vote-counting machines before the justices.
The poll body also said it should be given broad discretion to ascertain how the law’s requirement for a voter verification paper audit trail (VVPAT) should be implemented, arguing that this should not be interpreted strictly as a voting receipt.
In a unanimous ruling on Tuesday, the high court granted the petition of former Sen. Richard Gordon to compel the Comelec to issue voter receipts. The high court noted Comelec’s failure to answer Gordon’s petition and to transmit relevant files to the Office of the Solicitor General, which was supposed to act as its counsel.
In an interview yesterday, Comelec Chair Andres Bautista said he had many fears and reservations given the things the poll body would have to do only two months before election day.
“We cannot ensure that we can still deliver credible elections if ever we are forced to print voter receipts. We don’t know any more if we can still have credible elections by May 9,” he said.
He said the high court ruling would force them to redo several preparatory technological and operational activities.
“It is like we are in limbo right now on what we really have to do. So we are hoping that we can be given directions as soon as possible on this important issue,” he added, saying they are hopeful that the SC will decide by next week.
As to the possibility of just postponing the May 9 polls to a later date, he said they are also not entirely in favor of it since the law provides a specific date of the elections.
“The issue here is time. We are really pressed for time. We have only 60 days left. As I said, we are open to enabling the voter receipt feature in future elections, but not on this one because what we need is sufficient time to prepare,” said Bautista. With Tarra Quismundo