Comelec to comply but dismayed over SC order to print ballot receipts

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The vote-counting machines for the May elections (file photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will have to print a receipt for every voter on May 9 after all.

This developed after the Supreme Court (SC) ordered the poll body on Tuesday (March 8) to do so by granting a petition from senatorial candidate Richard Gordon.

Related: Group bats for ballot receipts, transparent elections

But commissioners are worried that this added step might disrupt the elections.

Commissioner Arthur Lim said the SC ruling would have grave repercussions on the poll body's timetable.

"With all due respect to the court, this is an ill-advised decision of the court," Lim said. "It has completely upset and turned our timelines upside down."

Related: Comelec: No printed voting receipts, but onscreen verification enabled for May elections

Comelec had previously decided against ballot receipts and instead would allow touch-screen verification of votes.

Commissioners deemed that printing out receipts would extend voting time and could also be used for vote-buying.

Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista estimated that the additional step of printing out receipts would add 10 hours to the voting time in every precinct.

Poll officials will now have to reconfigure over 92,500 secure digital (SD) cards to instruct the machines to print receipts.

They will also have to bid out over 1.2 million rolls of thermal paper and receptacles where the receipts will be stored.

They will also need to retrain some 277,000 teachers who will serve in the  board of election inspectors (BEI).

With overseas absentee voting ahead by a month, the poll body would need to recall and reconfigure SD cards already sent to voting centers all over the world.

Comelec said the high court should have consulted them first before coming out with the ruling.

Bautista said SC should have also weighed the practical and technical requirements of printing receipts — and not just the legality of it.

"After all that is said and done, we will obey their directive. But we are also not supermen and women and we can only do so much in respect of making sure that our democracy is strengthened and is protected," Bautista said.

Commissioners said they might appeal the decision but they would also be shifting to "emergency mode" to comply with the court order.