(SPOT.ph) The Philippine national elections is less than a month away, and a lot of us have been preparing for this game-changing day (or week, to be frank). Rules have been changing, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic is still upon us.
One such confusion is on the issue of face shields and vaccination cards. Commission on Elections clarified on May 1 that voters don't need to present their vaccination cards at the polling stations on May 9. This means everyone can exercise their right to vote, even unvaccinated Filipinos. You also don't need to wear or bring face shields, but you still have to observe the wearing of face masks.
This counters an old explainer video that has been circulating on social media, which narrated that face shields, vaccination cards, or RT-PCR tests in lieu of vaccination is required at voting centers. The resurfaced video on TikTok, turns out, is based on a manual that the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) issued in February, which has yet to be amended.
If you're still unsure, here's what you need to remember on the day of the national elections:
Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.
COMELEC announced in November 2021 that the May 9 elections runs from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., an hour longer than the last elections. Voting precincts should also accommodate voters as long as they're within 30 meters from the polling center right before 7 p.m.
"So we don’t expect it will end at 7 o'clock, but we will continue until all those inside or within 30 meters in front will be catered," COMELEC Commissioner Marlon Casquejo said during the House committee hearing.
Double-check the location of your polling precinct.
To save time, energy, and fare/gas on election day, it's recommended that you double-check where your polling place is before heading out. You can use COMELEC's Online Precinct Finder by just keying in your name and city where you registered. If the prompt shows a "No Record Found" status, but you're 100% sure that you're an active voter, better call COMELEC—stat.
Prepare your personal list of people to vote for.
No, this is not for distribution at the precinct as the campaign period officially ends on May 7. Your personal list (on a piece of paper) is for the purpose of avoiding accidental markings on your ballot. (Do you recall that time when someone shaded two circles for a shade-only-one slot?)
Don't forget to bring an ID.
For identification purposes, bring your voter's ID or any government-issued ID. Voters are asked to proceed to the assistance desk upon arrival at the precinct, and it's easier for everyone if you show your ID so they can locate your name on the list.
Bringing of campaign materials is not allowed.
Electioneering, which is taking part in the activities of an election campaign (e.g. flyering), is an election offense based on the Omnibus Election Code Article XXII. This means you're not supposed to bring and distribute stickers, flyers, sample ballots with markings, and other campaign materials on May 9.
Refrain from wearing shirts, ballers, or caps with a candidate's name.
Shirts, ballers, and caps with your preferred candidate's name count as campaign materials, so it's best to leave these in the laundry basket or your closet when you go to your voting precinct. Technically, colored shirts are allowed; but it's always better to be safe than have a nullified vote.
Do not accept a ballot with tears, marks, or shades.
As soon as you receive your ballot, inspect every side and every corner carefully in front of the desk of your precinct's electoral board. After you leave the desk and head to your seat, any marks found on the ballot are presumed yours and may nullify your vote.
Use the COMELEC-provided marking pens to shade your ballot, but bring a pen for signing.
COMELEC will provide marking pens for shading your ballots. Make sure that you fully shade the oval beside a candidate's name. Otherwise, it won't be read by the vote-counting machine.
Voters are also asked to sign beside their name on the Election Day Computerized Voters List. Since we want to avoid crowding the desks and sharing things (especially since we're still in the pandemic), you may want to bring your own pen for this part.
Taking a selfie with your ballot or a photo of your ballot is an election offense.
COMELEC also reminded the (young) voters to put their list on a piece of paper instead of their cellphone, which might be misconstrued as photographing your ballot. Taking photos or making copies of your ballot after voting is prohibited as this could be used for vote-buying or vote-selling. (To put it simply, candidates who have a penchant for vote-buying don't have anything on your head if you're not going to vote for them come election day.)
Do not leave until the machine processed your ballot.
As soon as you're done filling out your ballot, bring it to the vote-counting machine and insert the paper yourself. Wait for the machine to process your ballot, get the voting receipt that the machine produces, and review the names if those are the ones you actually shaded. If there's a discrepancy, bring it to the board of elections inspectors and file a formal complaint. Remember, we all want an honest and fair election.
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