Lawmaker: Ballot layout to blame for party-list losses

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 30) — A lawmaker says the layout of ballots used by voters during the midterm elections led to the loss of several party-list groups.

AKO-Bicol party-list Representative Alfredo Garbin said Wednesday that some voters were unable to choose their preferred group because they didn't know these were listed at the back of the ballots.

To prove his point, Garbin said only 40 percent of voters selected a party-list.

He said the Commission of Elections (COMELEC) is at fault.

"Nilagay niyo ho sa likod eh [You put it on the back]. And the numbers (are) very tellling. If I'm not mistaken, 27 million total votes cast in the party-list election out of 63 million registered voters. Sobrang bagsak ang boto sa [There is a huge loss in votes for] party-list as compared to 2016 election," Garbin said.

He added ballot layout can affect the outcome of polls.

"The format of the ballots, especially in the party-list election as we have right now in the 2019 election, can definitely affect the total turnout of votes in the party-list election."

At least 20 party-list groups with seats in the House of Representatives will not be returning to Congress because they did not get enough votes to win.

AKO-Bicol won in the recently-concluded elections, but will only have two seats in the House instead of its current three.

In response, the COMELEC said teachers — who sat as the Board of Election Inspectors on May 13 — were informed that candidates' names were printed on both the front and back of the ballots.

The poll body however, could not say for sure whether this information was relayed to voters.

"Sa training ng COMELEC, kami ay nagbibigay ng information sa kanila na ang balota ay two-sided [during COMELEC training, we told them that the ballots were two-sided], which means we expected that the teachers themselves would be able to give this instruction. We would have to find out from the teachers themselves kung na-miss nila yung point na yan [if they missed that point," said Jimenez.

The House Committee on Public Accounts has ordered COMELEC to bring samples of ballots used since elections became automated to scrutinize the layouts.

CNN Philippines corresopondent Xianne Arcangel contributed to this report.