FACTS ABOUT THE MAY 1998 ELECTION
Researched by DJ de los Reyes, S.J.
Type of Elections:
- local and national
(second Sunday of May according
to our Constitution)
Time: ., but may be extended for one hour
Total Number of
voters: ; (see the number of voters) according to law, there are to be up to
200 voters per precinct. Hence we will need about 170,000 precincts to handle all
33.5 million voters. (The COMELEC has not yet given out the official figure.
But one columnist has claimed that there will be in fact 200,000 precincts
nationwide. For purposes here, the minimum figure ---170,000--- will be used as
base.) According to law, each precinct is to be handled by a board of election
inspectors (BEI). Each BEI is composed of three members.
Hence we will [teachers] to run the voting
precincts. The government counts on the public school teachers to form BEIs and
carry out the single, most critical work of the elections (the running of the precincts
and the manual counting of votes.)
But there are nationwide.
(We do not have a half million public elementary and highschool teachers inspite of
the fact that we have around 18,000,000 school children and highschool students.)
Hence, there will be a shortfall of
personnel to run the most basic work during the elections.
Each member of the BEI is supposed to be
paid P800.00 (US$230.00). Hence around P408,000,000 will be needed for these persons
alone. [We do not have yet info on the 1998 approved budget of the COMELEC.]
In 1992, there were 73 provinces, 1,546
municipalities nationwide. There were also 60 chartered cities throughout the
We will choose one (1) president, one (1)
vice-president, twelve (12) senators, one (1) representative and one (1) representative by
the party-list system.
Those in municipalities will also choose
one (1) mayor, one (1) vice-mayor, six (6) councilors (more or less), one (1) governor,
one (1) vice-governor, and six (6) provincial board members.
Thus, voters will be writing at least
twenty four (24) names (or at least 30 names) on their ballots.
Question: how long will it takes an
ordinary person to write thirty (30) names? It will be no wonder if such person will bring
in a "codigo" (a list) to help him/her remember.
Each precinct has only ten (10) voters'
booth (made of cardboard). Since there are only 200 votes per precinct and only
eight (8) hours for voting, then each voter has only around twenty four (24) minutes to
fill up his/her ballot plus the required ballot-related activities (i.e., presenting
himself/herself to BEI, checking of the book of voters, signatures, thumbmark, checking of
ballot serial numbers, and so forth.)
All that basically implies that voters
must come very well prepared, knowingly exactly what we are to do (i.e. where is your
voting center, your precinct; what is the process inside the voting precinct, etc.), and
more important, that we have reached a choice of whom to vote for even before election
day. (It is this latter fact that helps the pre-election pollsters. In 1992,
two weeks before the general elections, SWS survey correctly predicted the outcome of the
If an ordinary voter is to come up with
the 24 (or 30) names, he/she will put in his ballot, then in the ideal order, he she will
have had examined:
exactly 11 candidates for president
9 candidates for vice-president
about 80 candidates for senator
at least 6 candidates for representative
at least 24 party-candidates for the
perhaps 6 candidates for mayor
perhaps 6 candidates for vice-mayor
perhaps 30 candidates for councilors
possibly another 4 candidates for
perhaps 4 candidates for vice-governor
perhaps 24 candidates for provincial
All taken together, the ordinary voters
will have to have examined anywhere from 170 to 200 candidates. Even the best of
voters cannot be expected to do so. By and large, the ordinary voter comes to
his/her choice by a process which is NOT as we would want it to be.
At 3:00 p.m., or at 4:00 p.m., the
counting of vote begins. Unlike the 1992 COMELEC, our current COMELEC has not
bothered to estimate the amount of time it will take to count the votes at the precinct
3:00pm or at 4:00pm, the counting of votes begin. Unlike the 1992 Comelec, our current
Comelec has not bothered to estimate the amount of time it will take to count the votes at
the precinct level. But one fairly good estimate is as follows:
There are preliminary activities (physical arrangements, counting of the number of
ballots, checking if the number tallies with the number of actual voters, the bundling
into sets of 50, filling up the tally sheets with the required entries, etc. ) will take
For each ballot, there is a preliminary peruse (check for identifying marks, spoiled
ballots, etc) prior to the appreciation. If these take a little less than three minutes
for each ballot and if there are 200 ballots to read, then the actual counting will take
10 hours. For each bundle of 50 ballots, the BEI (Board of Election Inspectors) must stop
to perform a recheck (the subtotals and the number of ballots). At any point, the BEI
Chairman can call for a break.
There are post-counting activities: completing the forms (at least half a dozen forms),
dealing with pollwatchers who want validated forms, etc. This usually takes around an
All told, the entire process could take TWELVE HOURS.
Note: The Election Returns and the ballot boxes are brought to the Municipal/City Hall.
There a municipal/city level canvassing takes place. After this level, there is still the
provincial level canvassing and the district level canvassing. After that, there is still
the Comelec level canvassing for the Senatorial elections. Finally, there is the
canvassing at the Congress for the Presidential and Vice-Presidential elections. It is
while the election returns are in transit or at the higher-level canvassing that cheating
is expected to take place.
Regarding the 33.5 million voters,
There are reports that 2.5 million are actually spurious. The voters Lists have
not been adequately checked.
There will be up to 5.4 million who will vote for a President, Vice-President for the
first time. These are those who are from ages 18 to 24.
There will be up to 10 million voters who will be 30 years old or younger.
In the last Presidential elections, the 18-24 age bracket did not turn out in great
number. It was the 25-34 age bracket that gave the highest turnout.
Geographically, around 5 million voters are in Metro Manila.