Monday, May 10, 2010

Suffering in Suffrage

Today marks a very important event in Philippine Elections. This is the first time that we had nationwide automated voting and the experience was very promising and very horrible at the same time. What used to take 30 minutes took 3 hours for most. My sister and I were less fortunate, it took us 6 hours just to cast our vote!

The polling centers opened at 7am but we came at around 9am. We went straight to the voter's assistance desk to confirm that our names are still in the active list and to get our room assignments. We had to do this because even though we already know our precinct numbers, the room assignments would be different because five precincts were grouped into one cluster, and therefore one classroom. Our room was on the first floor of the public elementary school and that's where we spent 6 agonizing hours standing in line. What happened was there were a lot of individuals cutting the line in front so those of us at the back were not moving. There were not much volunteers to marshall the lines and no numbers were issued, like what they implemented on the other floors. Another thing that contributed to the slow lines was the time it took for the teachers to look for the voter's information sheet in the voter's book. It seems that the voter's info sheets were not arranged alphabetically so looking through them took quite a considerable time. Also since there were five precincts lumped into one classroom, you would expect that there should be one teacher assigned to each voter's book per precinct but there were only two. After finding my info sheet and affixing my signature and thumbmark, I was given my ballot and it was a breeze from thereon. I shaded my choices, fed my ballot into the PCOS machine and had a drop of indelible ink on my index finger. I guess we were still lucky because other polling centers had it worse. Some had brownouts in their area while some had PCOS machines that did not work. Also there were reports of violence in some areas, most especially in the provinces.

Hopefully things will run smoothly in the next elections. More PCOS machines should be added (provided we still use the same automated system) and something should really be done regarding the voter's information sheets. I believe this part of the voting process should be automated as well. Either they start encoding whose voter's information sheets into electronic format, or have everyone register again electronically in order to capture everyone's biometrics as well.

Now that the voting process is over, we move on to the more exciting and critical part of the election, the tallying of the votes and eventual proclamation of the winning candidates. I just hope and pray that the no padding of the vote occurs and that the results would be truly reflective of the people's choice of leaders for our nation. Then all of our suffering in casting our votes would have been all worth it. God bless the Philippines.

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