Bets can’t go inside poll stations

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013


POLITICAL candidates are not allowed inside polling stations except when voting, said Cebu Provincial Commission on Elections (Comelec) Officer Ferdinand Gujilde.

Gujilde said if candidates want to know the proceedings of the board of election inspectors (BEIs), they can send their poll watchers.

“The watchers will be the politicians’ representatives inside the polling place. The candidates are not allowed to enter whenever they want to,” Gujilde told reporters.

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Gujilde said if a candidate insists, police will escort him out.

This, as more than 200 classrooms in Mandaue City are being readied for the May 13 elections.

Nicasio Cortes, an education supervisor of the Department of Education (DepEd) Mandaue City Division, said he directed school principals last week to clean the classrooms and remove excess chairs.

“We are 75 percent complete with our preparations,” said Cortes, who oversees the preparation of precincts in schools.

He said they still have to do minor preparations like fixing the lights of some classrooms. He recalled that in the 2010 elections, the voting process lasted until evening.

Cortes said personnel from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) have been inspecting the classrooms that will be used as precincts.

The city has 205 precincts in 27 barangays and 13 special polling areas for persons with disabilities.

A total of 615 teachers will serve as Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) in the 205 precincts. Each precinct will have three BEIs, who were recruited by DepEd and appointed by the Comelec.

The BEIs will have a support staff, who will be recruited from the community. The teachers who will serve as BEIs have already been trained, Cortes said.

Cortes said he instructed school principals to remove excess chairs because each precinct will have only 10 seats.

He has also reminded teachers serving as BEIs not to affiliate themselves with any candidate because they are supposed to be nonpartisan.

BEIs can be sued if proven to have favored a politician during the elections.

In the 2010 elections, some BEIs have been accused of being biased, but no proof has been presented by the complaining candidates, said Cortes.

The Mandaue City Central School will have the most number of polling places, with 18 precincts.

Cortes said they will put a map outside the school to help voters find their precincts.

All public elementary schools in Mandaue will be used during the elections next month.

Gujilde reminded candidates they cannot personally ask for the election returns.

He said some candidates believe they have the right to have the election returns and this often results in conflict with the BEI.

“Yes, they are entitled. But, it should not be them who will personally get the election returns. It should be the watchers,” Gujilde said.

Gujilde urged his fellow Comelec officers to emphasize the “BEI empowerment” during the briefing of BEIs.

He said that in previous elections, there were BEIs who were harassed and intimidated by lawyers of the candidates because the BEIs did not know they have the authority to deal the situation.

There will also be training for the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) technicians.

Gujilde said Comelec will also conduct a voter’s education in the barangays about the automated election.

Gujilde said voters sometimes believe they are the ones who will operate the PCOS machines.

“The only interaction of the voter with the PCOS machine is when the voter feeds the ballot to the machine and to look at the LCD whether or not it says ‘Congratulations.

Your vote has been registered,’” Gujilde said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 24, 2013.

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