Fears of a first time voter in May’s automated elections

Mar. 25, 2010

Davao Today

DAVAO CITY — When farmer Rufina Parojinog, 71, casts her vote on May 10, she would behold new election gadgets which the poll body, the Commission on Elections, assures easy to use.

With her failing eyesight, she said, she might not be able to choose her candidates well among those printed on the long ballot.

She fears she might not shade the oval well and her votes might not get counted by the Precinct Counting Optical Scan (PCOS), the powerful election machine that can make or unmake candidates—or disenfranchise her as a voter—during the country’s first automated polls.

“Comelec should also give out free eyeglasses along with the new ballots,” Parojinog jokes as she talks to Davao Today after attending the voter’s education sponsored by progressive partylist groups in Bago Gallera, a village in the city’s outskirts.

Davao voters during the mock elections held in the city. (photo by Karlos Manlupig)

Davao voters during the mock elections held in the city. (photo by Karlos Manlupig)

Parojinog, proud for not missing any election since she was 18, is among almost a million registered voters in the city who will vote for the first time in May using the Automated Election System (AES) machine, in the country which for a hundred years relied on manual elections.

A million voters

Parojinog belongs to the city’s first district, the largest among the city’s three congressional districts in terms of votes. Davao City’s close to a million registered voters has increased by 197,762 from their last count in the 2007 midterm elections.

As of the last day for registration on December 29 last year, Comelec registered a total of 391,423 voters in the first district, making up 41.27 per cent of the city’s 948,428 total number of registered voters. Comelec registered 317,877 voters in the second district, making up 33.5 per cent of the total number of voters; and 239,128 in the third district, which makes up 25 per cent.

These figures have yet to include the new registrants during the extended voters’ registration late last year. First district election officer Danilo Cullo earlier told Davao Today that in the city’s first district alone at least 2,400 voters availed of the late registration.

With poll automation, Comelec has grouped voters in clustered precincts as detailed in the Comelec’s project of precincts. Each cluster, which is allotted one PCOS, will have less than a thousand voters.

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