Incidents of malfunctioning machines mar PH midterm polls

David Dizon, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 13 2019 01:46 PM | Updated as of May 13 2019 04:33 PM

Incidents of malfunctioning machines mar PH midterm polls 1
A technician checks a malfunctioning vote-counting machine at the Tomas Morato Elementary School in Quezon City, May 13, 2019. Fernando G. Sepe Jr., ABS-CBN News

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is hoping to smooth over a "checkered run" in Monday's midterm elections amid reports of malfunctioning vote-counting and voter registration verification machines in different parts of the country. 

In a press briefing, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez admitted a malfunction in the vote-counting machine in precinct 0550C in NB 304 in San Antonio High School prevented former Vice President Jejomar Binay from casting his vote. 

"Hindi lang siya ang essentially makaka-re-feed. Lahat ng na-reject, especially those who came after him, lahat yun mare-re-feed," Jimenez said.

The former vice-president was later allowed to fill up a new ballot that was fed into a new machine. 

Binay said the problem with the malfunctioning machines is that a lot of votes might not be counted. 

“Sinabi ko nga, base sa kasaysayan, nangyari na ito. This is another way of reducing the voters,” he said.

“If you multiply yung nangyari sa akin at saka lahat nung kasama ko [sa polling precinct], maraming mawawalan ng boto. Naka-boto, pero hindi nabilang." 

Sen. Grace Poe also failed to vote at exactly 10 a.m. in Sta Lucia Elementary School in San Juan due to a malfunctioning vote-counting machine (VCM). 

Principal Vito Mangote said a Comelec technical team would fix the machine after their own technicians failed to address the technical problem of the VCM inside Precinct 81.

The senator decided to leave but returned past noon to cast her vote after the machine started working. 

Sen. Nancy Binay and Pasig mayoralty candidate Vico Sotto also deferred casting their votes due to machine problems. Sotto told ANC he received reports at least 35 VCMs were not working in Pasig. 

ABS-CBN News has also gathered reports of malfunctioning machines in different parts of the country. 

Flordeliza Manlapaz, wife of Hagonoy, Bulacan Mayor Raulito T. Manlapaz Sr., claimed that at least 6 vote-counting machines have malfunctioned in Barangays San Pedro, Tampok, Santa Monica, San Sebastian, San Pascual and San Pablo. 

"Ang problema, ang ipapalit eh ayaw ring magfunction," she said. 

One vote-counting machine in Ramon Magsaysay High School in Manila stopped printing receipts after ballots were accepted. 

Another vote-counting machine in precinct 0180-0187a in Central Azucacera de Tarlac began to overheat, prompting the electoral board and technicians to point an electric fan at the machine. A paper jam of the official ballots also caused delay in the voting. 

In Loma de Gato Elementary School in Marilao, Bulacan, voting was resumed even as poll inspectors waited for a technical team to fix the malfunctioning VCM. 

There were reported malfunctions in the vote-counting and voter registration verification machines in Jose R. Torres Elementary School sa Barangay Singcang-Airport Monday morning. An ABS-CBN Regional Network Group report said 12 VCMs had to be replaced last Friday due to various defects. 

In Padre Burgos Elementary School in Pasay City, some voters complained of defective voter registration verification machines (VRVMs) that delayed their vote. 

The principal of the school said only 2 out of the 30 VRVMs are currently working. Electoral boards are now manually verifying the names of voters before allowing them to cast their ballots. 

Some of the vote-counting machines in the school have also rejected ballots. 

Isagani Cruz, one of the voters, said he decided to leave his ballot after the machine rejected it. 

"Pangalawa ako sa pila eh. 'Yung una nakaboto. Tinanggap ng machine. Noong ako na boboto, ayaw pumasok sa machine. Niluluwa. Mula noon wala na pumasok," he said. 

Malfunctions in the voter registration verification machines and vote-counting machines were also reported in Zamboanga City. 

The Legal Network for Truthful Elections (Lente) said malfunctioning VCMs may be replaced. 

"In polling places waiting for replacement VCMs, voters can choose to (1) cast their votes and let the EB feed their ballots into the VCM or (2) wait for the VCM to arrive to cast the ballots personally," it said in a Twitter post. 

-- With reports from Kat Domingo, Isay Reyes, Jewel Reyes, RG Cruz, Yasmin Pascual-Dormido and Joyce Balancio, ABS-CBN News