Sunday, August 02, 2015

COMELEC 2015 San Juan City Edition

I wasn't able to vote during the previous election. It said my account has been deactivated due to failure to vote for 2 consecutive times. I haven't missed any other elections and it's not even possible because the time I registered was just on time for the 2010 Presidential Elections. Well, I wasn't the only one who experienced this because there have been other people who posted and complained of the same thing and we'll all just wallow in the fact that we were unable to vote due to some issues. This was probably due to the migration into combined precinct numbers and for some reason, I was the chosen one in our family. I should've gone to the Lotto station that day, it won't hurt to push my luck, eh?

Fast forward to today, 02-August 2015. So we heard that there is a COMELEC branch now near the old San Juan Municipal Hall (the new San Juan City Hall is near the Pinaglabanan Shrine). We looked around and it's difficult to spot. It's on the left side of the old municipal hall if you're looking at it from the street.

There were just 2 windows open and some youngsters who are either volunteers or on-the-job trainees are inside and ready to take your questions. So what do you have to expect when you're there?

- There is no system. Whoever gets to shove their forms or IDs first will get the attention. The "bakit siya kinuha mo na, eh nauna ako dito?" won't work. It's effort wasted. Save your high blood pressure. They don't give out numbers like in banks or other government offices nor even write your name in a logbook when the line is long. Buffet restaurants (even CD-R King!) have a better system.

- Show your ID. Tell them if you're there for reactivation or for biometrics. If you have an ACTIVE status, they will inform you if you need to have your biometrics re-captured or if you can go home now and you just wasted your time.

- In the event that you have a DEACTIVATED status, they will give you a form (or in the worst case, they will give you a form for you to PHOTOCOPY yourself), that's 3 copies of it, and you fill out each and every single item there, Afterwards, you submit it to them and they will call you for the thumbprints on the form and IF you need to have your biometrics re-captured. They will usually just update your photo there.

- Be patient. The kids will not understand your questions or queries the first time. Be straightforward in what you want. Lucky if you get the adult to attend to you. They will NOT issue voters' ID here, they told us to try next year. What they do though, is reactivation of status, recapturing of biometrics, and new application.

NOTE: I have talked to the lady operating the computer when I had my photo updated. She mentioned that there are instances that the active voters still have their biometrics saved while others' biometrics have been lost - so those are the folks who need to have their prints taken again. Sucks though, they should've just allowed everybody to have an updated photo just to ensure that they're still the ones claiming to be the name-bearer.

Some pro-tips:
- Never mind the list of Active and Deactivated voters. I wasn't able to find my name in both printouts but they were able to confirm that I have a deactivated status when they checked inside.
- Bring a pen or two. They won't provide you any extra pen and really, wherever you go, just bring a pen. How many people have held that pen? Can you imagine all the dirt? No?
- You are going to deal with young students who have not been oriented that much. They are not professional employees. Do not expect seamless transactions, painless experience, and just bring in a lot of patience and understanding.
- It's going to be either really warm or on the verge of a rainfall. Bring an umbrella just in case.
- Don't forget your IDs. Actually, one valid ID will do. I'm not sure why people here are not strict. It's identity and names on the line for the election, people!
- In the morning, visit around 9-11am and in the afternoon, be there by 1pm. People start to flock in around 1:30pm. They are also open on weekends!

Overall? The experience was not a walk in the park but there was no line when we got there and just think of the bigger picture. You're doing this not just for yourself but for your country as well. A little effort will go a long way! They are open weekdays and weekends except holidays and will be there until October. So please, there is no way you would miss this. Don't go rambling on social media when you do.

And oh, vote wisely. Please. PLEASE. If you haven't registered for the elections, shame on you. That's a bold statement.


Felisa said...

Hmm interesting. I've always wondered how voting worked there. Here, I've only ever done a mail-in ballot so I've never been to a polling station (yet... Maybe someday).

Even with all the progress the rest of the country has gone through there, the government continues to lag behind in organization and technology. To be fair, it is not far from how it is here. Private companies are unfortunately able to progress and streamline their processes much better and faster than the local government.

rO.ot said...

Last 2010 Presidential elections was the first time we experienced an "automated" election wherein we shaded a long ballot like a Scantron exam and feed it into a machine. Of course, the line is long and the place is warm (public schools) and you have to search for your name. We make it a family event though, so it becomes bearable.