AFTER three postponements, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday finally started printing official ballots for the May 2016 local and national polls.
The National Printing Office (NPO) will be producing 56,772,230 ballots for the 54,363,844 locally registered voters and 1,189,350 for the overseas absentee voters.
Also to be printed are ballots for testing, and a further 223,611 ballots for the local absentee voters in some areas abroad.
The printing of ballots was originally set for January 26 but was moved to February 1 and February 8.
Comelec Chairman Juan Andres Bautista said the NPO can print 800,000 to 1 million ballots per day, adding that the ballots will be ready as scheduled by April 25, or two weeks before the May 9 elections.
It usually takes 80 days to print ballots but he said the process will be shorter this time because of significant adjustments in the size of the ballot.
During the 2010 and 2013 elections, the size of the ballot was 8.5 by 26 inches or almost the length of two sheets of what is commonly known here as the bond paper.
For this year’s polls, the ballot size was reduced to 8.5 by 20 inches or six inches less.
There are also fewer candidates this time.
“This is the reason why we are confident that printing will be finished by April 25, which is the original deadline,” Bautista said.
The ballots are precinct-specific, with the names of candidates for President and Vice President, and the 115 party-list groups printed on the front.
The names of the 50 senatorial candidates, as well as local candidates, are on the back.
Up for grabs in the 2016 elections are the positions for President, Vice President, 12 senators, 115 party-list representatives, 235 district congressmen, 81 governors, 81 vice governors, 772 members of the Sanggunian Panlalawigan, 144 city mayors, 144 city vice mayors, 1,610 city councilors, 1,490 municipal mayors, 1,490 vice mayors, 11,924 municipal councilors and a governor and a vice governor for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and 24 ARMM assemblymen.
Six candidates for President were listed—including the late ambassador and OFW Club party-list Rep. Roy Señeres—and six for Vice President.
The other presidential aspirants on the ballot are Vice President Jejomar Binay, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Senators Grace Poe and Miriam Defensor-Santiago and former Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd.
For Vice President are Rep. Leni Robredo and Senators Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., Francis Escudero, Gregorio Honasan, Peter Alan Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes 4th.
Bautista said the Comelec had been compelled to include the name of Señeres on the ballot because of disagreements between the late ambassador’s party, the Partido ng Manggawa at Magsasaka and his family.
“The party and the Señeres family have different stands. In fact, I received a text from the Señeres family that they were still studying the possibility of fielding a member of the family as substitute candidate, while the party has already endorsed a substitute candidate. So we decided that Señeres’ name would remain on the ballot,” the Comelec chief explained.