Comelec releases new rules for receipts, rejected ballots

WATCH: Voter's receipt 101

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — There just seems to be no end to the problems of the Commission on Elections (Comelec). The poll body put out new rules on voter receipts and ballots rejected by the voting machines, but a former commissioner and a Comelec senior commissioner are questioning those new rules.

The rules

If your voter receipt shows you voted for someone you did not, you can tell the board of election inspectors you object to that. They will write your objection down in a logbook and attach your receipt to it.

But what's stopping others from claiming their receipts are wrong just to cause trouble? One new Comelec rule regards that as a "frivolous objection" and those involved can be charged with the criminal offense of perjury.

Another new rule is if the vote-counting machine rejects your ballot through no fault of your own, you can ask for a new ballot.

These new rules may sound sensible but former Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal and current Senior Commissioner Christian Robert Lim think otherwise.

The concerns

Larrazabal asked the Comelec to further clarify the rules. He worries precincts may run out of ballots because there's only one ballot per registered voter. Some people may lose their chance to vote.

"What I'm saying is that it's better if there are protocols, guidelines, and limitations that will guide or that will govern the procedures in the precinct. Kasi there's no limit. There's no limit to the ballots that can be replaced, di ba, if you ask for a replacement? There are no set rules on what are the grounds to say that it's the fault of the voter."

Lim, who leads the Comelec's steering committee, agrees with Larrazabal's concerns.

"Exactly, that's why I'm against it. Because really, on election day, on the ground yan, hindi mo kayang each and every one, makokontra mo yan. Kaya sobrang delikado yun."

Both lawyers also point out there's nothing in the law about so-called frivolous objections based on voter receipts.

Lim was out on official business when his fellow Comelec members voted unanimously on the matter.

He said the Comelec has no authority to legislate a new kind of offense.

"Paano mo ma-prove na frivolous siya? Hindi mo rin ma-prove eh... Impossible crime. Wala naman power ang Comelec mag promulgate ng batas," Lim said.

[Translation: How can you prove it is frivolous? You cannot prove it. Also, the Comelec has no power to promulgate laws.]

Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista defended their move, saying the law doesn't mention printing voter receipts in the first place and the poll body needs to manage its repercussions.

"Kasi pag maraming ganyang klaseng objection na mangyari sa araw ng halalan ay talagang magkakaroon ng duda or agam-agam. So naghahanap kami ng paraan nga para hindi ito maabuso."

[Translation: If there are that many objections on election day, there won't be trust issues. We are looking for ways to make sure it won't be abused.]

As for replacing rejected ballots, Bautista said there are always leftover ballots because voter turnout is never 100 percent. He added it is unlikely any ballot will be rejected anyway.

"Kung ang hindi pagtanggap ng balota, and dahilan ay yung makina, bakit natin paparusahan yung botante? Eh hindi naman niya kasalanan!" he added

[Translation: If the ballots won't be accepted by the machines, considering that it is only the machine's fault, why should the voters be burdened if it's not their fault?]

Bautista said he is open to clarifying these new rules with the commissioners again.