Print bigger ovals in future polls
MANILA, Philippines—Something as simple and logical as using bigger ovals in the ballot could prevent the threat of millions of votes being nullified in future elections.
Defeated presidential candidate Sen. Richard Gordon made this suggestion Thursday after noting that the ovals in the ballots used in the May 10 elections were printed so close together in a lengthy piece of paper.
“There was such a big room for error, especially for people with poor eyesight. I had to be extra careful while shading,” Gordon said in Filipino.
The senator as reacting to reports that up to three million votes would be nullified if those cast in the vice presidential race were declared null.
Among the reasons: the shading of more than one oval in the space for vice president; an improperly shaded oval and votes that were not tallied at all in the certificates of canvass because of incomplete transmissions by automated machines.
“I would not (blame) lack of education (for null votes) because there was a lot of education in informing the voters what do to. It was a matter of being careful in marking the ballot. It's really carelessness. In school, we learned to follow instructions,” the Bagumbayan standard-bearer said in a news conference Thursday morning.
“The rules were clear. Mark the oval. Don't mark more than one oval in positions that require only one person. If a voter shades two ovals, that is a problem not related to education. That's just carelessness,” he added.
Nullified votes, Gordon noted, should be blamed on human error and not on the precinct count optical scan machines that were programmed to recognize properly-shaded ovals.
“The machines are disciplined to count votes properly. If (people) put marks properly and not (shade) twice for the same position, then there would be no problem,” said Gordon, chair of the Senate committee on electoral reforms.
Lawyers of vice presidential candidates Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay and Sen. Mar Roxas are at loggerheads over whether the Commission on Elections should recognize faulty ovals.
Roxas' lawyer complained that the number of null votes for vice president was noticeably high in areas considered his bailiwicks.
Gordon also suggested that ballots in future elections should have a different lay-out with the names of the standard bearer and his running mate printed one above the other so that voters can locate and shade them more easily.
“A more organized lay-out of the names of standard bearer and running mate would have made things easier for voters. Also a shorter ballot. There (were) too many presidential candidates, there's got to be vetting because there were too many independents. Unfortunately, you cannot legislate that there should only be two parties to shorten the ballot. If we had bloc voting, that would be automatic. You vote for the president and his running mate,” Gordon said.
The senator also offered other, more realistic reforms that would help the Comelec handle future elections.
“We need to overhaul Comelec (by) putting more computer literate individuals because young people now are becoming more literate so we need more and more of these young people,” he explained.
Gordon also wants the government to consider implementing the much-ballyhooed national ID system. “If only to save money, automate the registration in the national ID system and have it double as the holder's card for either the Social Security System or the Government Service Insurance System,” he said.
Gordon also wants the Comelec to consider allowing voting and registration in supermarkets and malls, “for two to three days in transparent areas, especially in the provinces so people do not have to converge in schools all the time.”
“If we make registration automated, then Comelec registrars would be a thing of the past. And we need to go back to having only three Comelec commissioners,” he said. At present, there are six commissioners and one chairman in the poll body.
Print bigger ovals in future polls, says Gordon