Comelec changes ballot box design

By Reynaldo Santos Jr., Newsbreak

Posted at Feb 23 2010 07:03 PM | Updated as of Feb 24 2010 03:03 AM

Less transparent, the boxes will shield ballots' UV ink from sunlight

First, they changed the layout of the ballot. Now, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has changed the design and makeup of the ballot boxes.

Bigger and less transparent than the sample units being shown to votes in road shows and information drives, the latest ballot boxes look like the trash bins pushed around by street cleaners in the metropolis.

Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal on Tuesday showed reporters the official ballot box to be used for the first nationwide automated polls. Made of durable plastic and resembles a big trash bin, it is 36 inches tall, 34 inches long, and 20 inches in width.

While the sample units had big transparent windows on both sides, the official boxes will only have much smaller, translucent windows. The windows are made of unbreakable glass.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said, "There is nothing wrong with changing the design of the box. Now, it is designed for addtional measure of security."

Jimenez explained that the ultraviolet ink in the ballots is susceptible to sunlight and could make images and letters fade. Thus, the old design where much bigger and transparent windows were used will expose the ballots more to the sunlight.

Faded ballots, he said, "will give us a problem if a recount has to be carried out later on."

Jimenez said that the change in the design of the ballot box is for additional measure of security. "What's important is that the ballots remain authentic."

Larrazabal said that voters would still be able to see and detect the ballots inside the box through the translucent windows.

The increase in size of the ballot boxes will accommodate the long ballots of the automated polls. Ballots for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao will be 27 inches long, while those for other regions will be 25 inches long.

Larrzabal said that the ballot box can now accommodate the 1,000 ballots, as required by every precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machine.

The poll body signed a separate deal with machine manufacturer Smartmatic for the production of the ballot boxes. A P234-million contract was awarded to the company. Each box effectively costs P3,000. Jimenez said that all 82,200 PCOS machines will have one ballot box each.

The ballot boxes will be produced at Smartmatic's facilities in Taiwan, and will be produced from mid-March to mid-April. They will then be delivered to the treasurer's office of various cities and municipalities along with the delivery of the machines.

Even with the production of new ballot boxes, the poll body earlier explained the the old yellow steel ballot boxes would still be kept for use in small elections, like the baranggay polls. (Newsbreak)