How was your experience of the country’s first automated elections?
Mine was surprisingly pleasant and without much of the drama I see from TV reports. The ubiquitious long lines and sweltering heat are givens but what made them bearable was the efficient and organized Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) in charge of our cluster of five precincts. FYI, our barangay, Barangay 13, is the third largest barangay in Pasay City in terms of area and population.
Mama and I arrived at the Pasay City West High School at around 10:00 AM. The maze to our precinct was fairly easy as having been an active voter since the 1998 elections. We went straight to the voters’ list taped on the wall, copied our number, and joined the queue, which the wise BEI tucked in the adjacent room so as to minimize crowding along the corridor. With the day’s issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer in tow, 45 mins passed by swiftly and it was already my turn to face the poll clerk before I finished the Opinion Section.
The experience seemed surreal to me, primarily because I knew how the election was like before. I was awestruck when I finally saw the much talked about PCOS machine in front of the classroom and when I was handed my ballot. I felt giddy when I fed my ballot into the machine, and I made sure that I did it right. And when it flashed “Congratulations!” shortly after processing all the “itlog na bilog” in my ballot, I fought hard not exclaim in amazement. In less than five minutes, from the poll clerk to ballot submission, I was already proudly flashing a dirty finger.
I understand that not everyone is as blessed as we were in our precinct. As I type this blog, 11 and 1/2 hours have already passed since the the polls opened. Sadly, the news is still rife with reports of disenfranchisement due to faulty machines, frustrating long lines, missing names, etc. But let’s not give up on our votes. The PPCRV desk is there to assist you, you can go to the local COMELEC if your name is not on the list, and you can just treat the long lines as if you are lining up for movie tickets or at the grocery counter. ‘Wag bibitiw. Huwag iwanan ang pagboto.
As for the COMELEC, here’s a tip from Prof. Florenda Gabriel, my professor and mentor back in UP. She texted me this when I asked asked her how her voting experience had been:
Ok ang machines pero kulang ng work simplification. Kailangan yata ng COMELEC ng efficiency expert. People and movement flow, operation and facilities layout. Where to put instructions, precinct no., and voters’ list to facilitate flow. I think there were so much focus on the machines that other operational aspects were overlooked.
I told her that it’s a good business idea and maybe we could offer our consultancy services to COMELEC.
She replied: “Sige nga.” 😀
How about you? What did you experience? Care to share?