Poll irregularities in the Visayas as monitored by Kontra Daya

Less than 3 hours before the scheduled close of precincts on election day, concerns arise in Visayas over the “emerging trend of massive and prevalent disenfranchisement of voters,” according to election watchdog group Kontra Daya, based on the deluge of reports regarding problems with voting processes and machines throughout the region.

Elections have been delayed in several areas due to problems with poll count optical scan (PCOS) machines. More and more voters are also complaining about the inefficiency of the automated election system (AES), as they stand in a crowded line for hours, their wait compounded by slow ballot processing and technical glitches.

PCOS failures

As of press time, malfunctions have been reported in two PCOS machines in Negros Occidental, and six in Cebu. The batteries of several PCOS machines in Western Samar did not work. In Eastern Visayas, a PCOS machine jammed three times at the latest count, and another machine has rejected at least four ballots. And even before election day, on May 8, five PCOS machines were burned in Iloilo.

Apart from the technical difficulties, there have also been reports of possible irregularities — unsealed compact flash cards in Negros Occidental, a failure to test and seal PCOS machines in Bacolod, unmatched serial numbers in Iloilo, and PCOS machines manned by allies of specific political parties or politicians, among others.

Voter woes

Meanwhile, for voters, long lines and extended waiting characterize the new system of clustered precincts. Voters for over 300,000 precincts in 2007 have been crammed into only 76,347 clusters for the 2010 elections, due to the limited number of PCOS machines available.

All over Visayas, voters are texting or calling in their criticisms of the voting process. In Mandaue City, one report claimed that a precinct cluster in Barangay Tipolo was processing “only 10 voters per hour.”

In Lapu-Lapu City, several groups of voters forced to wait in the sun began leaving their place in the line to go home, saying they were “frustrated” by the long wait.

The voting system is “slow and poorly organized,” Kontra Daya said in a mid-election day statement.

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