Massive voters’ education, key to successful 2010 automated elections

By Jaime Pilapil

Commission on Elections director for education and information James Jimenez urged politicians to help voters familiarize themselves with the new ballots.

“They can copy the ballots we will use for the elections. The most important thing is to teach voters how to fill up the ballot. How to shade correctly,” Jimenez told UJ.

He said each voter is allotted only one ballot. “No extra copy. If you tear it or soak it in water, then it is considered a stray ballot. If you commit mistakes like shade 13 names for senator, then it is considered a stray ballot.”

No erasure is allowed! No replacement of ballot!

Miguel Abila, spokesman for Smartmatic, the foreign company which will supply the more than 80 thousand counting machines, said his firm still holding a series of meeting with Comelec to come out with the final specifications of the ballot like its features.

“For sure, no one can fake the ballots. We have security features and the machine will only read the ballots we prepared. Each ballot is programmed for a specific machine,” Abila said.

As far the Comelec is concerned, election manipulation is a thing of the past already.

“No more vote padding (also known locally as dagdag-bawas). Cheating is confined outside the precincts and Comelec offices,” Jimenez said.

Cheating is plainly external. Jimenez said election officers cannot alter the outcome of the results. Teachers will be taught only how to operate the machine. “Practically, election supervisors will only be taught how to start and close the machine, nothing more, nothing less.”

Jimenez said politicians can only use external means to cheat; namely, vote-buying, coercion, intimidation and violence.

Comelec will also hold a series of caravans to teach voters how to fill up the ballot, including through the internet like emails, Facebook, and Twitter, among others and appearances in various forums in schools and malls. -30-

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