Failure of election Conditions, unmet
FAILURE of voters to exercise their suffrage due to the delayed delivery of ballots could not be used to invoke failure of elections in some places in Bohol.
City Comission on Elections (Comelec) chief Atty Ariel Selma bared this on a radio interview as voters who failed to vote last October 25 said there were simply no ballots available.
Several polling places here in Bohol failed to open as scheduled as some election paraphernalia from the Comelec in Manila only came at 4:00 dawn on the day of the elections.
When these opened later, voting was suspended when ballots were used up and the remaining officials ballots were delivered late.
In Tagbilaran City, only about 39, 244 ballots arrived on the first batch when 47,858 ballots are needed for city registered voters. On the second batch, only 7,800 arrived, interviews with Provincial Election supervisor Eliseo Labaria and City Comelec Registrar Ariel Selma revealed.
In fact, the 7,800 ballots were delivered only late in the afternoon of the election day, where most of the voters have either gone home to eat of have been too frustrated while waiting for their turn.
Citing pertinent Comelec Resolutions, Atty Selma hinted that unless it had been on account of force majeure, violence, terrorism, fraud or other analogous causes that the election in any precinct has not been held on the date fixed, it would have been a failure.
According to Comelec Resolution 8899, other than the one stated above, failure of elections can also happen when the voting has been suspended before the hour fixed by law for the closing of the voting.
For Atty. Selma, by invoking the voter’s presence within 30 meters of the polling place at the close of the voting, these voters can still vote.
All those who were within the vicinity and who were there intending to vote were accommodated even after the extension time, he claimed.
Moreover, in the same resolution, the poll body also ruled out that in case the suspension happened after the voting and during the preparation and the transmission of the election returns and in the custody of canvass, such election results in a failure to elect.
In Tagbilaran City where most of the problems were noted, neither of the conditions warrant any case where failure of elections could be declared.
Admitting that the delay has produced uncomfortable results with voters having to wait, the Comelec has done what it can do: extend voting so that the started polls can continue at the arrival of more ballots. (rac/PIABohol)