COMELEC has released the General Instructions for the voting, counting and transmission of results of the May 10 elections, which includes the rules for voting and deadlines that a poll official said they can’t meet.

The Commission on Elections’s (Comelec) General Instructions discussed in detail how the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) and the voters should use the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines and how to fill out the ballots.

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While some provisions seek to promote transparency and safeguard the electoral process, Cebu City election officer for the north district Marchel Sarno fears the BEI would be flooded with complaints on election day because of certain provisions.

Under the guidelines, a voter is entitled to only one ballot and “no replacement ballot shall be issued to a voter whose ballot is rejected by the PCOS.”

An invalid ballot that is not accepted by the machine will not be replaced, but the General Instructions specifies that it can be submitted to the BEI chairman but will be marked “rejected.”

“This is one controversial provision that we want to be clarified on. A voter is not entitled to get a substitute ballot if it is considered invalid and is not accepted by the machine. Won’t the voters be irked if this happens? We don’t know how many times this will happen on election day,” Sarno said.

In an interview yesterday, Sarno said the training of local officials and BEIs can start now that the Comelec has released Resolution 8739.

Provincial Election Supervisor Lionel Castillano and Assistant Regional Director Veronico Petalcorin flew to Manila yesterday to attend the briefing on the General Instructions.

The resolution on the “General Instructions for the BEI on the Voting, Counting and Transmission of Results was approved by the commission en banc last Dec. 29.

It instructs election officers to constitute not later than Jan. 8 the BEI for each precinct from the list of public school teachers provided by the Department of Education.

But Sarno said it’s impossible for them to beat the deadline because of the extension of the registration period.

The list of voters will not be finalized until after Jan. 9 when the last hearing of the Election Registration Board is held.

“Dili gyud mi maka comply ana nga deadline because of the extension, so, I think Comelec Manila will give a leeway.

Anyway it will be easy to constitute the BEI once the list of voters is finalized,” said Sarno.

The resolution also enumerates the qualifications of members of the BEI and watchers of political parties and candidates, as well as the BEI’s powers and functions and the rights and duties of watchers.

Among the watcher’s rights is to challenge any illegal voter, or those offering to vote but are not registered, or those using the name of another voter, or is facing an existing disqualification.

The General Instructions also identifies the persons allowed inside the polling place, which will be open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on May 10.

It also sets the procedures that the BEI should follow in operating, opening and closing the PCOS machines on election day, as well as the manner of obtaining the ballots, and the manner of voting. (LCR)