THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) halted the printing of ballots on Tuesday because the name of the political party of Sen. Miriam Defensor- Santiago was not included in the ballot face that bears the names of presidential candidates.
“Printing was stopped because the name of the party of Santiago was missing, but printing has resumed,” Comelec Chairman Juan Andres Bautista told reporters. He did not elaborate.
Director Genevieve Guevarra, head of the Comelec Printing Committee, said the error was discovered on Monday during the printing of the FTS or final testing and sealing ballots which form part of the 56,772,230 ballots that the commission will print.
But Guevarra gave assurances that the glitch created no substantial wastage because only 39 FTS ballots have been printed when the error was spotted by personnel of the ballot verification team.
She said printing was stopped the whole day on Tuesday.
It will resume only once they receive the corrected ballot face that will bear the name of Santiago’s political party, the People’s Reform Party (PRP).
“There was no printing the whole day of Tuesday. We are now printing request for demo [demonstration]ballots, around 750,000. That’s what we are doing now while we are waiting for the corrected ballot faces,” Guevarra said.
The official added that the corrected ballot faces would be ready by Wednesday night.
“We expect to start printing [of official ballots]tonight. Hopefully, [the corrected ballot faces]will arrive so that we can already start the printing of official ballots,” Guevarra said.
She admitted that their timeline was somehow affected but she pointed out that the poll body will be able to meet its April 25 deadline to finish the printing.
“Of course, there is an effect [on our timeline} because our [two weeks’]buffer has been reduced. Our deadline is on April 25 and it can be achieved because we have a buffer in our timeline for unexpected or delays like this,” Guevarra explained.
The National Printing Office, she said, can print 800,000 to one million ballot per day at optimum speed.
Guevarra admitted that they can no longer afford any more delays.
Also on Wednesday, Bautista said the commission moved an inch closer to its plan to use malls as voting centers.
The poll body will decide on the issue not later than March 25 after finishing consultations with various election stakeholders and affected voters.
“We are conducting hearings in various areas so that we would be able to determine the number of voters who wanted to be transferred,” Bautista said. “What is on our mind is the comfort and convenience of the voters.”
He cited results of a recent survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) that showed 61 percent of respondents favored mall voting.
Bautista disclosed that the plan has already been approved by the commission en banc by a vote of 6-1.
Memorandums of agreement with various malls had also been signed.
Bautista estimated that some two million registered voters will vote in malls.
Among those eyed as voting centers are the Fisher Mall along Quezon Avenue in Quezon City; Robisons Magnolia on Aurora Boulevard., also in Quezon City; SM Aura in Taguig City; and Lucky Chinatown in Binondo, Manila.