“Contrasenyas” nullifies ballots

BALLOTS deliberately marked for purposes of countersigns (contrasenyas) can be considered null and

On this, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) in Bohol warns vote buyers and voters trooping to
the polls in Bohol’s 1109 barangays on Monday against wasting their votes on scrupulous practices
that challenge the integrity of elections.

In the country known for its fraudulent manual polls, candidates instruct their “paid” voters to strictly
follow markers so that the buyers can track specific votes read during canvassing from his materlist
of assigned countersigns.

Marked ballots, or as the Board of Election Tellers (BET) agree that it is deliberately put by the voter
for idetification purposes it make the ballot null and void.

Provincial Election supervisor Atty Eliseo Labaria, citing the General Instructions for BET and
Barangay Board of Canvassers in connection with the 2010 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan
elections also reiterated this.

The ruling is to prevent voters from putting up the “contrasenyas” or a practice of deliberately
marking ballots in manual elections to assure the candidates that the votes read belongs to a voter
he has bribed, explains a teacher who used to be a BET member in the past manual polls.

These marks however do not include commas, dots, lines or hyphens, accidental flourishes, strokes
or strains in a ballot, rule 22 of section 211 of the Omnibus Election Code.

While it may be considered that a typical writer’s mistakes can be manifest in the ballot, clearly
marking them would invalidate the whole ballot, not just the vote in favor of the name of the
candidate, a recap from the general instructions show.

The BET however should decide and agree if the marks are such to be considered strong enough to
be considered rejected.

The cardinal rule however is to consider the ballot valid and in favor of the voter, but the Comelec
has allowed the BET independence in the ballot appreciation, Comelec Genereal Instructions said.

According to the rules, names of candidates printed and pasted on a blank space of the ballot or
affixed there on a mechanical process would also be deemed null and void.

This would then render the whole ballot null and void. (PIABohol)

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