28 October 2007
2:15 pm: Set up the Hotlines today – 5259294; 5259295;5259334; 8270821; 5275574.
The majority of calls deal with reports of violations of various election bans, particularly the liquor ban. We take down the details of the complaints and coordinate with the appropriate COMELEC deputy; for liquor ban violations, for instance, we sic the PNP on ’em.
7:30 pm: As of 5:30 pm today, the Hotline has received 66 calls on queries ranging from really basic things (when, where, how to vote) to reports of violations. All calls have so far been from the NCR and surrounding provinces. Those who report violations are referred to the Election Officer with jurisdiction, and the concern is followed up with the same EO by the Hotline. Other concerns are endorsed to the appropriate COMELEC department or deputized agency for action.
29 October 2007
Haha. So much for blogging the B&SK elections. Anyway, now that things have quieted down somewhat, I suppose I should commit all this day to writing while I can. I can’t put down down times for all events but I will be trying to put them down in proper chronological order.
3 am, fire razes six classrooms in Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija. No one is hurt and no election supplies are affected.
In the meantime, continuing bad weather in Bicol causes floods, threatening the holding of elections there.
7:00, a vast majority of polling places nationwide open their doors. Notable exceptions: Pantabangan, N.Ecija; Marawi; Camarines Sur; In Sulu – no polling places operated in the whole of the municipality of Panglima Estino; in Barangays Sunugan, Panabuan, Tumtangis, Lambayong, and Sasak in the municipality of Indanan; in Barangays Tulayan, Capual, Angilan, and Lahing-Lahing in the municipality of Luuk.
By 7:30, the situation in Pantabangan has been resolved. By 12:00 noon, Marawi’s polling places begin operation.
Sometime in the afternoon, the elections were suspended in Pasay City North High School as a result of the actions of voters who were ordered excluded by the trial courts. Apparently, these people could not accept the exclusion order handed down by the judge.
In the background of these stand-out events, the COMELEC hotline received – not just queries about proper procedures and reports about alleged violations of election laws by candidates and their supporters – but also calls about people not being able to find their precincts.
While some of these people were assisted to their satisfaction, we have to put the problem in the proper context. There are many reasons why people can’t find their precincts or can’t find their names on the lists of voters.
First, the physical room assignments may have changed. For instance, I’ve always voted in a classroom situated in the right wing of the public school being used as a polling center. This year, my precinct was ‘transferred’ to the left wing. Many of the voters in my precinct were flustered and some didn’t have the patience to find where the precinct had been moved to. These people later on claimed that they couldn’t find their precincts.
Second, some people were never registered to begin with. This can be further categorized to people who simply think that they can vote without any solid basis for that belief. They also claim that they were denied their right of suffrage. And then, there are those who have an acknowledgement receipt. The AR is a stub from the application for registration form that we give to applicants as proof of their application. Proof of application, NOT registration. So, in some cases, it was found that these people who had ARs actually had their applications denied for various reasons. In most cases, these people knew that they were denied. And yet, they still all claimed that they were denied the right to vote.
And third, some people attempted to vote not realizing they’ve been deactivated as a result of a failure to vote in two consecutive national elections. They too claim that they were prevented from voting.
However, this is not to say that no one was unjustifiably denied the right to vote. Unfortunately in some cases, there exist the possibility of unwarranted omission. These instances are currently under investigation. The point I’m trying to make is that the problem is routinely – and I believe unfairly – being overstated.
Other voter’s list problems:
This election saw a number of dead people’s names showing up on the list – proving what we already know: the list isn’t perfect. Unfortunately, most people forget that when a dead guy shows up on the list it is rarely because he was inserted there (cue the image of election operators skulking around in cemeteries copying names off of tombstones), but because his name wasn’t taken out when he died. The difference is that, in the first instance, malicious intent is patent; in the second, there are several possible reasons, short of malicious intent, which could explain the situation.
Identity theft also occurred. In some cases, people arrived at the polling places to find that their names had already been used to vote. In at least one instance, the BET admitted its mistake and the appropriate corrective measures were taken and duly noted in the minutes. We are going to have to talk with the BETs who let these thefts occur.
List problems with a twist: one candidate for Kagawad found that his name wasn’t included in the list of candidates attached to the ballot secrecy folders. This problem was referred to the EO who will be asked to account for the omission.
Peace and order, in general, did not pose too much of a problem. With the notable exception of the goings-on in the ARMM, as well as the other election related violent incidences – 23 deaths since September 29 – elections all over the country proceeded peacefully. Of course, these are 23 deaths too many. Without a doubt, any future discussions on how to improve the administration of elections will have to tackle this issue in depth and at great length. There has to be a way to eradicate this problem.
By 3:30 pm, things quieted down considerably. And by 4:00, it was a safe bet that the 2007 B&SK elections had entered the history books.