Be informed: How to cast votes in ‘22 polls amid a pandemic

Be informed: How to cast votes in ‘22 polls amid a pandemic

MANILA – More than 65.7 million Filipinos will be eligible to cast their ballots in the May 2022 national and local elections, aside from the 1.697 million Filipinos overseas.

It may seem easy, but health risks posed by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) have resulted in some changes in the step-by-step voting process to ensure the health and safety of people within the vicinity of voting centers.

Based on the official Commission on Elections (Comelec) website, the voting hours are set from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., which can be extended depending on the number of voters.

Standard health and safety protocols must also be followed, such as the mandatory wearing of face masks, the voluntary wearing of face shields in areas under Alert Level 3 or lower, frequent washing or sanitizing of hands, and physical distancing.

The Comelec’s step-by-step voting process is as follows:

• Have your temperature checked before entering the voting center.

• Proceed to the Voters’ Assistance Desk to secure your precinct and sequence numbers and assigned room or clustered precinct.

• Go to your assigned room and introduce yourself to the Electoral Board by stating your name, precinct, and sequence numbers.

• Get your ballot, ballot secrecy folder, and marking pen and fill up the ballot at the voting area.

• Accomplish the ballot by fully shading the oval appearing before the name of the candidate you wish to vote for. Do not overvote.

• Feed the ballot into the Vote Counting Machine (VCM).

• Check your voter’s receipt and then deposit it in the receptacle.

• Have your right forefinger nail stained with indelible ink.

Aside from these, it is also necessary to observe provisions under the Omnibus Election Code (OEC), also known as the 1985 Batas Pambansa 881.

Under Section 195 of the OEC, voters are prohibited from entering a booth occupied by another and entering accompanied by somebody, except those who are illiterate or disabled.

Voters are also prohibited from spending longer time in the booth than necessary or speaking with anyone while inside the polling place.

Preparing the ballot outside the voting booth, exhibiting its contents to any person, erasing any printing from the ballot, and intentionally tearing, defacing, or putting any distinguishing mark are unlawful.

Also unlawful are making a copy of the contents of the ballot and making use of any other means to identify the vote of the voter.

Voters must use only the official marking pens or markers given by the Board of Inspectors (BEI).

They must also keep in mind that smudges or blots might affect the capability of VCMs to read the ballots.

After completing the ballot and feeding it into the VCM, voters may check their voting receipts to see if it correctly reflects the names of candidates they voted for.

If there are no problems with the receipt, voters may drop it in the voting receipt box once done.

If the receipt does not match the names voted, voters may bring it to the BEI to register a complaint.

Voters are not allowed to leave precincts with their voting receipt to protect the sanctity and security of the ballot and deter vote-buying.

Unvaccinated Filipinos would be allowed to cast their votes.

However, voters experiencing Covid-19 symptoms after arriving at the polling precincts would be taken to an isolated area to vote.

Before election day, voters may consider preparing a list of who to vote for to avoid making accidental markings on ballots.

Comelec has a list of candidates available on its official website: https://comelec.gov.ph/?r=2022NLE/ListsofCandidates/TentativeListsofCandidates

Voters must also know the location of their assigned voting precincts beforehand. (PNA)

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