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Monday, October 3, 2022

A Handy Guide for First-Time Voters

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The elections will be administered in just a few weeks – on May 9, to be exact – and first-time voters may feel a little nervous as they will go to the voting precinct for the first time in their lives.

In October, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) reported that over four million voters aged 18 to 21 are first-timers.

This democratic exercise is sacred and consequential; thus, a first-time voter must be immensely prepared before going to the precinct.

Here is a handy guide for first-time voters on what to do before, during and after voting:

BEFORE VOTING

  • Research on the candidates’ track records and platforms
    It’s important for voters to scrutinize a candidate’s track record and platforms so the right people will lead your community and the country for the next few years. Though the internet is filled with fake news and disinformation, legitimate news sources are still the best sources of information as they produce credible content about the elections.

    Comelec, meanwhile, has produced a website called “Vote Pilipinas” where you can get to meet in excruciating detail all ten presidential, nine vice-presidential and 64 senatorial candidates. The commission compiled each candidate’s major accomplishments, platforms and personal details for the voters’ perusal. You can check the site at https://votepilipinas.com.
  • Prepare a codigo
    If students are not allowed to carry a codigo during exams, voters can. In fact, they are encouraged to do so to speed up voting time.

    Since more than 65 million Filipinos have registered to vote, lines are expected to be long, especially since social distancing measures are in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

    It’s important for voters to know who they want to vote for, so time will not be consumed just to decide. A codigo prepared before election day will ensure that within minutes, a voter will vote for officials in numerous positions.

    To see the ballot template for your city or municipality, log on to this website: https://comelec.gov.ph/index.html?r=2022NLE/BallotFaceTemplates.
  • Find your precinct
    Finding your voting precinct will make it easier for you as you arrive at a public school filled with mammoth crowds. You won’t have to fall in line at the voter’s assistance desk before falling in line at your precinct.

    On Apr. 1, Comelec and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) signed an agreement in which the latter will host a website for the voter precinct finder. The site was activated on Apr. 22.

    At https://voterverifier.comelec.gov.ph/voter_precinct, just type your full name and select the city or municipality you’re registered at. You’ll then see where your precinct number is and your current status.

    In case you can’t access your precinct number or the status displayed is wrong, you can go to your local Comelec office to inquire. The complete list of voters in their jurisdiction is posted there.
  • Check if you’re okay
    The Department of Health is discouraging voters who may exhibit Covid-19 symptoms before the elections from going to the polling booth to avoid spreading the virus. That’s why a week before May 9, protect yourself from being infected. Follow the minimum health protocols if you’ll go to a campaign sortie. The election is just once every three years, so don’t be complacent with your health.

DURING VOTING

  • Be aware of the time!
    Precincts will be open at 6:00 am on May 9. They will close at 7:00 pm. All voters who will fall in line before 7:00 pm are still accommodated. If you arrive, however, by 7:01 pm, don’t try to argue anymore because the hopes of participating in the election will be dashed.
  • Proceed to the voters’ assistance desk for clarifications
    If, by any instance, you haven’t checked your precinct number beforehand, a voter’s assistance desk will be available at every public school. They will help you know your precinct and sequence numbers. They can also guide you in the voting process if you are still confused about it.
  • One voter, one ballot
    When you have finally gotten hold of your ballot, TAKE CARE OF IT!

    Comelec has only printed one ballot per voter, which means if you wrongly shaded two candidates for president, you cannot ask for another copy.

    Fully shade the oval appearing before the name of the candidate you wish to vote for. Don’t put a check or cross mark on that oval because the vote-counting machine will not read that. And, most importantly, don’t tamper with the ballot.

    The abovementioned link containing the ballot face templates per city and municipality will help you familiarize yourself with the ballot you’ll be answering on May 9.
  • No cellphones allowed
    Cellphones are prohibited inside the polling booth, so don’t attempt to take a picture of your ballot for your Instagram stories!
  • Follow minimum health protocols
    Covid-19 is not yet away, that’s why wear your face mask and face shield (optional!) and observe social distancing for your safety.

    In case your temperature won’t be at a normal level and symptoms appear, you’ll be redirected to a separate voting precinct, with nurses in PPEs facilitating the process. Your ballets will be fed to your assigned precincts once the election is over.

AFTER VOTING

  • Double-check the voter’s receipt
    Once you feed your ballot into the vote-counting machine, a receipt will be printed to show which candidate you voted for. Double-check if the machine acknowledged the ovals correctly. If not, approach an election officer to record the incident in the Minutes of Voting.

    Remember that if your ballot was rejected the first time, you have four more tries to feed that to the machine. If the ballot is still rejected, that will be considered ‘spoiled’ and recorded in the Minutes of Voting.
  • Ask for the indelible ink
    Staining your finger with indelible ink will be the only evidence you have showing that you voted already, so never forget about that. Outside the polling booth, you can take unlimited selfies of your finger to brag to everyone that you’ve done your part for the country.
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