By Mayen Jaymalin, February 11 2019; Philippine Star

Image Credit to Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is adopting additional security features in the ballots to be used in the coming May 2019 midterm elections to ensure their integrity and credibility.

“The ballots will have the normal security features like marks, barcodes and a few others,” Comelec spokesman James Jimenez disclosed in an interview over the weekend.

One of the additional features is machine-readable ultraviolet (UV) markings on the ballots, he said.

He declined to discuss the other features for security reasons.

“The order of printing starts from the farthest. The far-flung areas first and then last few deliveries will be the National Capital Region because it the easiest to be delivered to their destinations,” he explained.

Jimenez said the printing of ballots will start with Mindanao provinces, followed by those to be used in the Visayas and Luzon provinces.

The Comelec will be printing a total of 64,804,544 ballots. Of the total number, 1,818,710 will be delivered overseas while the rest will be delivered to various destinations nationwide.

Jimenez said the NPO is providing the Comelec three printers for round-the-clock printing of the ballots.

“Our target is to print one million a day,” Jimenez said, and that printing of ballots is expected to be completed by April 25 or earlier.

“In order to ensure that all ballots will be read by the VCMs (voting counting machines) on election day, the Comelec will conduct ballot verification, with 250 VCMs verifying 64 million ballots and the target for the ballots to be verified per day is also one million,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Comelec created new Accessible Voting Centers (AVC) in South Cotabato and a new Special Polling Place (SPP) in Aurora in addition to those already existing for the coming elections.

As of December 2018, Comelec said, there are 33 AVCs, five in Region 3 (Bulacan), 18 in Region 4-B; seven in Occidental Mindoro, eight in Oriental Mindoro, and three in Palawan.

There are 10 in Region 12 (South Cotabato); and 33 SPPs – one in Region 3 (Aurora) and 32 in Region 4-B; 11 in Occidental Mindoro and 21 in Oriental Mindoro currently existing as Indigenous Peoples (IP) Established Precincts.

The Comelec said some SPP established as IP precincts will have their own VCM.

Clustered IP Established Precincts per voting center with at least 150 IP voters will have exclusive use of a VCM for their respective precincts.

“IP’s and IP communities all over the country can now have their own precincts in their respective voting centers (SPP) or a precinct in a voting center that is near their community (AVC) not just for the upcoming 13 May 2019 national and local lections but for all,” Comelec said.