1.1M votes for senators 'nullified' due to overvoting; Palace sad about it

MANILA. A man helps his wife fill out her ballot as they vote at a polling center in the Manuel L. Quezon elementary school, Manila, Philippines, Monday, May 13, 2019. (AP)

MALACAÑANG on Thursday, May 16, felt sorry about the report that more than one million votes for the Senate post have been nullified because of overvoting.

Speaking to Palace reporters, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) should look for ways to avoid overvoting, which put votes of the electorate to waste.

"Ang nanghihinayang ako, 'yung 1.1 million. I think the Comelec should do something about that kasi biro mo 1.1 million hindi mo mabibilang (I feel apologetic about the 1.1 million votes that have been declared invalid because of overvoting. I think the Comelec should do something about that because 1.1 million votes that are not counted was not a joke)," Panelo said.

"'Pag titignan mo 'yung mga difference doon sa mga kandidato, malaking bagay yun. Mayroong malalaglag, mayroong papasok (When you look at the differences among the votes cast for each candidate, it's such a big deal. Some might win, some might lose)," he added.

An online report claimed that at least 1,170,331 votes for the senatorial candidates were considered void because of overvoting.

In an interview earlier Thursday, May 16, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the poll body has yet to validate reports that there were over one million overvotes recorded during the May 13 midterm elections.

Jimenez, however, stressed that the Comelec did its best in reminding voters to carefully check their ballot to avoid overvoting in the recently concluded midterm polls.

Panelo said the Comelec should study how overvoting would be avoided every election.

"Ang dapat pag-aralan nila how the voter [will avoid overvoting]. Kasi nga shini-shade, pag sumobra hindi na babasahin ng [machine] (They should study how the voter will avoid overvoting. There is a tendency that the machine will not read the ballot if there's an overvote)," he said.

"There should be a way na kahit na sumobra, 'yung sobra huwag mong basahin. There should be a way of determining na hanggang dose lang (There should be a way that only the excess will not be read. There should be a way of determining that only 12 votes will be read)," Panelo added.

Meantime, Panelo also reacted to call for the suspension of proclamation of winning senatorial candidates in the midterm elections because of issues of alleged election fraud.

Fr. Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of Catholic Church's social justice arm Caritas, said the upcoming proclamation of new set of senators should be called off following the suspicion of fraud.

Gariguez cited reports of possible fraud due to "major technical glitches" involving vote counting machines and transparency servers.

Panelo said the Palace would leave the decision to the Comelec.

"Nasa Comelec yun. Mahirap tayo mag-comment diyan kasi tiretoryo nila 'yan eh (It's up to the Comelec. It's hard to comment because that's within their territory). President [Rodrigo Duterte] will never interfere in an electoral process," he said. (SunStar Philippines)


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