Comelec makes last-minute changes on ballot design
In an interview with reporters, Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said the Comelec en banc has approved a proposal to group the names of the candidates in the ballot by position horizontally, instead of listing them vertically as earlier recommended.
"This is a way to have a better ballot as compared to the previous design. The first design was simple, it improved," he said, adding that the decision was based on the suggestions of technical personnel of the poll body and poll machine supplier Smartmatic-TIM.
The printing of the ballots to be used in the May 2010 polls will commence on Sunday, February 7.
It was originally scheduled to begin on January 25 but was later moved to January 30, then to 31, because of pending disqualification cases with the Comelec. But on Monday, Comelec Chairman Jose Melo said that the printing will be further delayed by one more week still due to unresolved cases pending with the poll body.
In a separate interview, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said they cannot immediately give out a copy of the new ballot design because the sample ballots they have contain the official list of candidates.
"We will prepare a mockup for the media as soon as possible," he said.
But Larrazabal said that the new design will maximize the unused space on the ballot. "The design is a more efficient distribution of the names of the candidates and political parties to maximize the space of the ballot face," he said.
However, Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform, told reporters in a chance interview that they were not informed by the Comelec about the change in ballot layout.
"They decided by themselves. Nauna po kayong nakaalam (You were even first to find out)," Casiple said.
Jimenez, for his part, admitted that they will have to work "double time" to inform the voters about the new layout because all the training ballots they have been using up until now have all been the old design.
"We will just have to double time on informing the public on the new shape of the ballot," he said, adding that they will publish the new look of the ballots on newspaper ads once they have been printed.
Shading the oval
He added that what's important is educating the voters to properly shade the oval beside the names of the candidates so that their votes will be counted. "But it (the new layout) is really not that critical because what we are teaching the people is how to shade the oval," he said.
Jimenez that the ballot will still be about 8 ½ inches wide and 26 inches long.
He said that the ballot will still be divided into sections that will be delineated by a colored border. The sections will be colored blue for president, vice president, congressmen, provincial governor, and councilors; and green for senators, party-list groups, provincial board members, and municipal mayors.
The text in the ballot will remain black and the background white.
To lessen the text on the ballot, the Comelec will put only the acronyms of participating party-list groups and their corresponding number. The numbers will be pre-released so that the groups can use it in their campaign. - RSJ/KBK, GMANews.TV