Voters told: Only election board can handle ballots if VCM malfunctions

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 13 2019 05:01 PM

A malfunctioning vote-counting machine lies idle at the Tomas Morato Elementary School in Quezon City, May 13, 2019. Fernando G. Sepe Jr., ABS-CBN News

Following reports of malfunctioning vote counting machines, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) on Monday reminded voters that only they can handle their ballots.

“The only time the EB (Electoral Board) can handle it is when (the VCM) malfunctions. The EB will call the Comelec tech center. Either the VCM is replaced or it is repaired by the tech support,” Dinggay Villanueva of the PPCRV said in a phone interview.

“If the voter can’t wait (for the machine to be repaired), which is often the case, they can leave the ballot with the EB,” she added.

The electoral board must put the ballots in an envelope or a ballot and once the VCM starts working, they should feed the ballots in front of poll watchers.

Comelec Education and Information director Frances Arabe confirmed this process.

“The ballots that needed to be re-fed to the VCM are placed inside an envelope in the presence of poll watchers,” Arabe said.

Villanueva clarified that PPCRV volunteers cannot handle and accept ballots. 

Under Comelec Resolution 10497, when the VCM malfunctions, the EB should announce the following options to the voters:

(1) To proceed in casting their votes by shading their ballots which shall be batch-fed by the EB before the close of polls. In this case the EB shall inform the voters receipt. For this purpose, EBshall temporarily place shaded ballots inside the Envelope for Rejected Ballots, Half of Torn Unused Official Ballots and Other Half of Torn Unused Official Ballots, and Counted Official Ballots.

(2) To wait for the VCM malfunction to be resolved or the replacement VCM to arrive for them to cast their votes and personally feed the ballot in the VCM.

PPCRV Executive Director Maria Isabel Buenaobra earlier said the number of reported VCM’s malfunctioning was “not alarming” so far.

However, by Monday afternoon, Comelec admitted that the problems with VCMs have tripled, compared to 2016 polls.