With just two weeks to go before the May 9 Philippine presidential elections, the ballot counting for overseas voting resumed at the Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles on Monday morning.
But as the votes began piling up, so did some of the errors. At least four of the returned ballots were invalidated due to errors in the ballots, which included voters signing in the wrong place, or marking multiple choices in some of the races.
For poll watchers, each of the invalidated ballots is disappointing.
"I feel really terrible because it’s a chance for your voice to be heard and the voter must’ve been very eager to make sure their vote is counted. It's probably they didn’t understand the instructions on the instruction sheets, and really there is a need for more voter outreach to teach the registered voters how to fill in their ballots," poll watcher Xenia Tupas asserted.
While it's a lost vote, it's also time lost as election officials will have to do paperwork on each rejected ballot as well.
"The whole practice takes 40 seconds from feeding and reading the ballots, and adding all of those mistakes will prolong the whole process so as much as possible please follow the instructions given to you so that your votes will be counted. Don’t waste your vote," poll watcher Ariel Brigella said.
On the technical side, a handful of paper jams took place but were quickly fixed.
No invalid ballots were found during the first feeding last Thursday.
The mailing of some 35,000 ballots were completed last week, and a few ballots have been sent back to the consulate due to address changes. The consulate is posting a growing list of returned ballots on their website. There are now nearly 500 names on the list, and they may go to the consulate to pick up their ballots in person.
To help voters cut down on mistakes, the consulate is releasing a few public service announcement videos, hoping to serve as friendly reminders for voters to not only turn in their ballots but also to turn them in the right way.