Comelec to do away with padlocks in midterm polls-A A +A
Friday, January 18, 2013
THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) is set to do away with the presence of padlocks in ballot boxes set to be used in the May 13 midterm elections.
In an interview Friday, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said the commission has decided not to purchase padlocks anymore for the more than 80,000 ballot boxes and instead use plastic seals with serial numbers.
"We will do away with the padlocks because under our previous set-up, we were supposed to order four padlocks… our decision is to just use plastic seals," said Brillantes.
In doing so, the poll chief noted that they will be able to save at least half of the P33-million budget for the purchase of padlocks.
"I am not certain of the amount but definitely we can save more than 50 percent," said Brillantes.
Also, he said the use of plastic seals is safer considering the presence of serial numbers unlike in padlocks.
"Padlocks don't have serial numbers. And based on my practice, Comelec padlock can easily be opened. With plastic seals, once it is broken or cut, it cannot be returned anymore. If replaced with a new one, you will notice since the serial number will be changed," said Brillantes.
He said the Comelec–Special Bids and Awards Committee (SBAC) is already set to conduct a public bidding for over 400,000 plastic seals as they are set to use five in each ballot box plus some extras for contingency.
Meanwhile, Brillantes disclosed that the commission said they are also set to do away with the use of thumb marking of voters come Election Day.
He said the decision was brought by their desire to solve the queuing problems normally experienced during the voting period.
"We solve some queuing problems since we can save time during thumb marking," said the official adding that it can remove about 20 percent of the estimated voting time for each voter.
The former veteran election lawyer reasoned that thumb marking is not that necessary anymore given the presence of the signatures of the voters in the certified voters' list (CVL) and in the official ballots.
Brillantes added that removing the thumb marks would lessen the possibility of smudging the ballots with ink.
Under the Omnibus Election Code, voters are required to affix their thumb marks at the CVL upon receipt of the ballots as well as in the official ballots after voting.
In addition, he said they have also decided to transfer the placing of indelible ink from the table of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) to somewhere near the polling precinct's exit.
"It won't be necessary anymore to go back to the BEI desk to have the indelible ink. It creates additional confusion also among voters," said Brillantes.
To note, all successful voters must have their forefinger marked with indelible ink prior to exiting the poll precinct.
Back in the 2010 polls, the Comelec suffered delays in the voting procedures resulting in long queues outside polling places thus making it necessary for them to extend voting hours until 7 p.m. from the original 6 p.m. (HDT/Sunnex)