By RITCHE T. SALGADO
CEBU CITY — Aquino Maturan, 71, of Poblacion, Valencia started lining up to vote outside his assigned precinct at Valencia Elementary School as early as 6:30 a.m.. By 6:45, the Board of Election Inspectors manning the precinct started their preparations, opening at exactly 7 a.m.
Although the younger voters were able to finish in less than five minutes, for Maturan, the new way of voting posed several problems for him, foremost of which was the small circles that he was supposed to shade.
A voter in Cebu City patiently waits for her turn to cast her ballot. (Photo by Ritche T. Salgado / bulatlat.com)
In the next precinct, voting was delayed for 15 minutes because of some problems in the starting up of the PCOS machines. However, once the voting started, no further glitches were reported.
In Dumaguete City, intermittent brownouts that started the night before have raised a lot of worries and questions among the voting public.
Efren de la Cruz, 72, and wife Beatriz, 68, hoped that the brownouts would not taint the credibility of the results of the first automated election in the country.
Officials of the island’s electric provider, Negros Oriental Electric Cooperative 2, which is aligned with APEC Partylist, however dispelled criticisms that the series of brownouts has something to do with the elections. NORECO officials said that the power failure was caused by problems of two substations – Silliman and Bagacay.
Negros Oriental COMELEC election supervisor Eddie Aba is positive that despite a few glitches of the PCOS machine, this year’s election would be a success, citing the absence of poll related violence for the first time in the province’s history.
The halls of Abellana National High School, one of Cebu City’s largest polling place, was crowded with voters. (Photo by Ritche T. Salgado / bulatlat.com)
In Cebu, fruit vendor Nellie Abrea, 43, left the polling place in San Nicolas Elementary School at 4 p.m., having waited her turn from 8 a.m.
“I prefer the previous style of voting. Today, it takes too long to wait for your turn to vote, but once you’re inside, the process is faster,” she said in Cebuano.
Abrea, further added that the size of the circle she is supposed to shade was also very small, probably the reason why the elderly were having a hard time placing their vote, she suggested.
Others, because of the confusion caused by the small slots for shading would over vote especially for the party-list.
As of 5:45 p.m. Task Force Poll Watch reported 24 cases of PCOS machine malfunction, five of which prompted the BEI to switch to manual polls: four in Mandaue City and one in Consolacion, Cebu.
There were also reports of military and police presence in schools: one in San Francisco, Cebu, two in Lapu Lapu City, and one in Cebu City.
Pagbabago! Cebu reported that in Barangay Guadalupe in Cebu City, police officials conducted a room to room inspection. At cluster precinct 361 the BEI requested the police officials to witness the malfunctioning of the PCOS machine.
Voting in Barangay Centro Agdao, Davao City, is going at a snail’s pace. Lines are long and at the rate the automated voting is progressing, observers fear many will not be able to cast their ballots by the time polling centers close. (Photo by T.W. Trinidad / bulatlat.com)
In Trinidad, Bohol, John Ruiz of Task Force Pollwatch said that 75 to 80 percent of voters have already been accommodated as of this writing. He said that aside from the slow pace and minor glitches of the machine, elections in Bohol province, generally, was peaceful with no major untoward incident.
In Cebu, however, Pagbabago! Cebu reports that as of 6:45 p.m. in precincts that they monitored, only 50 percent of voters have been accommodated.
Fr. Jess Dumaual, MSC, co-chair of Pagbabago! Cebu is hopeful that the vigilant monitoring of different non-government organizations and citizens’ groups helped in ensuring the peaceful conduct of elections.
“It looks like COMELEC underestimated the enormity of the work in the first automated elections in the country,” he said, adding that the problems being faced now is due to COMELEC’s lack of foresight and reflects the deficiency in the agency’s preparations.
“It seems that the Comelec lacked the will to ensure an orderly automated elections,” he said.
Fr. Dumaual insists that the poll should be extended until every voter would be accommodated, saying that it is not proper to transmit the results when some people are still casting their votes in some precincts. (Bulatlat.com)