May 10, 2010 is a historic day for all Filipinos. Today we had our first taste of automated elections.
The day started early for me. Luckily, we lived near the precinct where we are casting our votes. After a two minute walk I am right there where I'm going to vote. If there's one word to describe the sight during that very moment, it would be CHAOTIC. I was in the midst of sea of people from all walks of life in a mad dash situation. A map with no clear directions, names printed in size 12 fonts and posted on classroom walls way above our eye levels, nosy election watchers, co voters with hardly any smiles on their faces, humid temperature, etc. . . I started to feel uncomfortable and wished that I could have said yes instead to an earlier invitation of a foreign correspondent friend to
Saving grace was the presence of a blogger friend, Sir Gilbert Tan. Talking with him was great, we both killed time and saved ourselves from boredom and stress. The only bad thing was he voted ahead of me since he belonged to the 2nd batch of voters in our precinct. So I was once again left amidst the throng of impatient voters. Nice thing, that the voting process was quite fast because several minutes later my number was called. I told myself, this is it!
So off I go inside the precinct and after having undergone the customary procedures I was given my ballot and a smartmatic pen to be used in shading the hugis itlog. Easy, it seemed like betting on my favorite numbers in the lotto. I already have the names of people to vote in my mind so shading came handy for me. Only to be faced with some sort of commotion after I finished the task. The voter ahead of me was already talking in a loud voice because the PCOS machine won't accept her ballot. BEIs assigned tried calming here by suggesting something. (I won't elaborate on this anymore because what they did, for me, is something contestable.) Different scenarios flashed in my mind as I waited for my turn to enter the ballot in the PCOS machine. What if the same thing's gonna happen to me? Surely, I won't follow BEIs instruction because I think it was not right. Fidgeting, I made my way to the PCOS and thanks Holy God - I had right away my Congratulations! Your vote has been registered!
It thought that was it - I made it to the long list of Filipinos able to exercise their rights of suffrage using new
technology. Much to my horror, upon reaching home, I saw inside my hand bag the Smartmatic issued pentel pen used in shading the names of our preferred candidates. Confused on what to do with it, I posted my dilemma in my FB account and this is what I got: (please click on the link below)
This is not yet the end of my story, folks! :-)
The author contemplated on returning the pen to somehow cleanse her conscience. I was so ashamed/guilty of returning it with lots of people peeking behind classroom windows so I decided to just come back at night time so I could hand it directly to the BEIs and without the fanfare perhaps (LOL).
When the bell rang signaling the end of the voting session at around a little past 7 PM, I immediately dressed up and prepared to go back to my precinct to somehow do a good deed :-) Much to my chagrin, I was not allowed entry by the guards because there was a strict order from the principal not to allow the public to witness the proceedings inside the precincts right after voting time. Due to the stressful situation and disappointment - a spur of the moment decision came out of my mind. I e-mailed BMPM the situation in the school where I voted. I did not care anymore on what happened next because all I knew was people were already allowed to enter the school premises.
The pen? It's still in my possession and it will now form part of the mementos of the day that will be marked red in the pages of our history.
Thanks for reading this post, guys!