Minor vote counting machine issues in Malabon quickly resolved

Minor glitches experienced by vote-counting machines (VCMs) in a Malabon City public school were quickly resolved before noon, an official said Monday.

Melibeth Ruiz, principal of the Concepcion Elementary School (CES), said a VCM in cluster 41 with precinct numbers 100A, 100B, 100C, 101A malfunctioned and failed to accept shaded ballots.

“Mayroon lang kaming naencounter ngayon ngayon lang, ,may isang VCM na ayaw magbasa ng balota ng tuloy-tuloy so nagkaroon kami ng delay dahil kinakailangan ipasok ng paulit-ulit yung mga balota para basahin niya (We encountered something just recently, one of our VCMs failed to read the ballots continuously so we experienced delays because we had to repeatedly feed the ballot into the machine to read),” Ruiz told the Philippine News Agency in an interview.

She immediately relayed the problem to the Department of Education Supervising Official (DESO) technical staff as well as the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Ruiz said standby technicians took more or less an hour to repair the VCMs.

“Sa kabutihang palad, upon cleaning the machine, nag-proceed naman na rin siya pero kanina medyo natagalan lang ng konti bago naayos kaya medyo humaba din ang pila. Pero sa ngayon, okay na siya, smooth flow naman. Ino-observe nalang namin (Luckily, upon cleaning the machine, the ballot was accepted although there were delays that is why the lines are long. But now, it’s okay. ” she added.

Being a senior citizen, Alberto Esteban, 69, did not have to wait as long as other voters. However, problems with the VCM stretched the voting process further than what should have been done in less than 15 minutes.

“Ayaw tanggapin ang balota. Iluluwa. Ayaw siya mag okay. Pero nagookay naman pag matagal tagal (The machine does not accept the ballot. But eventually got fixed after a while),” he said.

Ruiz said more than 9,900 Malabon residents are expected to cast their vote at CES.

To remind individuals to follow minimum public health standards, Ruiz said she regularly makes announcements through a microphone.

She admitted that overcrowding in the school was difficult to control since many individuals preferred to wait in their respective queues rather than in the holding area meant to cut down long lines.

“So far, medyo nagkakasiksikan ng konti ang tao dahil dumagsa sila ngayong umaga. Mayroon naman kaming nakalaan na holding area per precinct kaya lang ayaw gamitin ng mga tao, mas gusto po nilang nakapila po sila (So far, the people have been a bit crowded because they flocked this morning. We have a reserved holding area per precinct but people just don’t want to use it, they prefer to line up),” she said.

No isolations yet

As of 10 a.m., Ruiz said the school has not yet reported cases of voters needing to stay at the Isolation Polling Place (IPP) after showing Covid-19 symptoms such as high body temperature.

She assured the public that volunteer nurses are ready to assist anyone who would need to isolate or receive other medical assistance.

“Mayroon po kaming Isolation Polling Place na kung saan mayroon tayo doon na nurse at saka mga supplies na kakailangan para maasikaso kung sakaling mayroong silang karamdaman po (We have an Isolation Polling Place with a nurse as well as supplies to assist those with health concerns),” she said.

The Comelec earlier said it is anticipating around 67.5 million people or 60 percent of the country’s 112 million population to cast their votes in their respective precincts.

‘For the nation’

Despite the long queues and heat, voters, including the elderly, were determined to show up to vote amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Celia Videna, 68 said although some individuals were handing out sample ballots with the names of real candidates, she had decided on those she would vote for.

“Inisip ko nalang yung kapakanan ng bayan e kaya okay lang po, basta wear lang po ng mask (I am thinking about the welfare of our country that’s why I don’t mind showing up as long as we keep our masks on),” she said.

For Jenica Renico, 27, she would only vote for candidates who deserve to be public servants.

“Kabisado ko kung sino iboboto ko Kailangan iboto natin yung dapat. Para din naman sa’tin ‘yan e (I have memorized the names of candidates I will vote for. We need to vote for who deserves it. It’s for our own good),” she said.

The distribution of sample ballots is considered campaigning and thus illegal, according to the Comelec.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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