Everything you've wanted to know about RP politics, but were afraid to ask.

The PCOS machine worked fine but…

Posted by akosistella on May 10, 2010

I EXCITEDLY woke up early at 6 am today, so I could be among the first to line up and vote. This was my first time to vote at the Culiat Elementary School near Tandang Sora Ave., in Quezon City, since my family had transferred from a nearby village.

Culiat Elementary School - where I voted.

Aside from the long walk my 82-year-old mom and I had to make from the avenue and into the side street where the school was located, we also had to negotiate four flights of stairs to get to our polling precint. God bless my mom for still having the strength to walk and climb that far!

But it’s hot and humid out there. I could already feel the beads of sweat running down my face and my back, while I wove through the massive crowds eager to cast their ballots. I don’t think there was enough information given out to voters on how to go about the voting process. Like most people didn’t know they first had to get a number from the BEI w/c would later be called when it was their time to get their ballots.

The long wait-voters sit it out in the heat, waiting for their numbers to be called.

One of our neighbors told me that if only she knew this was the system, she should’ve just sent her son even before 6:30 a.m. to get their numbers first. You see, by the time we left the classroom which served as our polling precint, the numbers being called were just in the 30s, while newcomers were being handed out numbers 130-140. I was told by a cop later that there were 14,000 registered voters in that school, with only one PCOS machine allocated per 1,000 voters (14 classrooms were used.)

Mercifully, senior citizens are given first priority in voting so by the time my mom reached the classroom where our precint was located, she only had to wait 10 minutes before she got her ballot and took less than 8 minutes to fill it up. Next, after filling up the ballot, she walked to humongous black gigantor of a PCOS machine to feed her ballot. She fed her ballot in the slot, and zing! “Congratulations!”, the little black and grey screen read. Her ballot had been cast. Wow, this is my mom who doesn’t like to text, and has difficulty hitting the buttons on the remote, expertly handling the controversial PCOS machine! (No cameras are allowed inside the voting area so I couldn’t take photos.)

Voting done! My right index finger smudged w/ the indelible ink.

It didn’t take the BEI officers long to locate my name on their voter’s list as I had just registered last year. So there was a thumbnail B/W photocopy of my picture beside my name spelled out fully. Once I received my ballot, I sat down; it took me less than 10 minutes to accomplish my form. I had my codigo of favored candidates with me. I quickly shaded the names of national candidates, but when I flipped over the form, I deliberately took more time as many of the candidates running for local posts, especially the councilors, were really not familiar to me. I also took care not to shade beyond the bilog na hugis itlog’s circumference.

I then had my turn at the PCOS machine and fed my ballot into the machine. Rejected! Uh-oh, what did I do wrong? The machine said the ballot had been misfed. Okay, I stayed calm as I waited for the paper to be released before feeding it carefully into the slot again. Wham! Bam! “Congratulations! Your vote has been registered.” Yes! I pumped my right fist into the air in joy and relief! Thank God. I approached the BEI desk so the officer could drop the indelible ink onto my right index fingernail, before signing on the voters’ list and affixing my thumbmark on the other list which contained my approved voter’s application form.

A bundle of Satur Ocampo/Liza Maza sample ballots just left at the side of the street.

So there really was no problem with the PCOS machine in our precint, despite the horror stories reported by the media of the glitches that have happened last week. It’s just the long lines, the heat, the thirst, the hunger and the 2-3 hour wait that kill. I expect that there would be a lot of voters who would be discouraged by this and just choose to go home. A number of long-time voters in the school told me this was probably the most chaotic elections they’ve experienced in all the years they’ve voted there.

One man also said his name wasn’t on the voter’s lists posted outside the precints, so he had to go to the BEI to ask them to inspect whether his name was on the master list. Mercifully, they found it. What if he wasn’t so forceful and insistent like the others who may have found themselves in a similar situation? But unluckily, he still couldn’t vote despite his name being found. He was voter no. 238 – it was before 9 a.m. and by then only voter no. 47 had been called in his precint. I advised him to go home to rest and take his lunch first, before returning. Sayang naman if he didn’t come back.

Girl in cap hands out sample ballots to passersby along Tandang Sora Ave.

Personally, I pitied the teachers who had to deal with all the hot heads and impatient voters, while stuck in a tiny classroom with only one working ceiling fan and a stand fan that didn’t rotate. Pls. do your best to smile at them and even crack some jokes because they are working so hard. And every bit of happy vibes helps ease their exhaustion.

I think it’s important that people keep their cool and be calm today. Aside from the long lines, there will be some pushing and elbowing to get ahead of the lines or to make way to the precints. Be the first to apologize no matter who is at fault. It diffuses the tension immediately.

Election day looks very much like a fiesta with streamers of local and national candidates hung like banderitas.

Also please be patient. Super super patient! We shouldn’t let this opportunity to elect our national leaders pass, so if we can sacrifice just this one day, pls. stay in line and wait our turn to vote. It will make all the difference in the country’s future.

ANNOUNCEMENT FROM COMELEC: Voting has been extended to 7 PM. (Teachers in most precints, however, are asking Comelec to extend the voting hours beyond 7 PM to accommodate all voters. We’ll update you on any new Comelec announcements.)


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