Poll watchdog reports election offenses, suspension of voting By: Kimberly Jane Tan, GMA News

Uncategorized February 20, 2014 11:12 AM

An election watchdog on Monday reported several election offenses occurring throughout the country during the barangay polls, including acts of electioneering in polling places, vote-buying and vote-snatching. In a statement on Monday, election watchdog The Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE) said their observers reported incidents of vote-buying in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi and ballot-snatching in Tabuk, Basilan. It also called attention to the suspension of voting in Kidama, Maguindanao after ballots ran out at 1 p.m. even though several registered voters had yet to vote. The group also said complaints from voters of being unable to vote because somebody had already voted in their stead have been reported in Quezon City and Las Piñas. It said flying voters were also arrested in Centro East, Santiago City, Isabela. Section 261 of Article XXII of the Omnibus Election Code states that any person caught to have committed vote-buying and vote-selling shall be guilty of an election offense. Electioneering The group reported alleged “indiscriminate distribution” of sample ballots in barangay Kapangian, Leyte and Barangay Calero, Mindoro, with minors even reportedly tapped to distribute flyers In Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat. It said “acts of electioneering” were likewise reported in Barangay D2, Borongan, Eastern Samar while a barangay official was reportedly seen loitering and refusing to leave a polling place in Albay. Also under Section 261 of the Election Code, “it is unlawful to solicit votes or undertake any propaganda on the day of registration before the board of election inspectors and on the day of election, for or against any candidate or any political party within the polling place and with a radius of thirty meters thereof.” Detainee voting problems On the other hand, LENTE cited reports of Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) personnel from the Butuan City Jail in Libertad supposedly “coaching” some detainees who were casting their votes in Cotabato City Jail.  Some ballots were also reportedly “improvised” with bond paper. The group also specifically reported an incumbent barangay official who was allegedly seen talking with the warden inside the detainee polling precinct in the Bicol region. The Election Code also prohibits the intervention of public officers and employees in the conduct of polls. Also among the other problems, it said, were outdated Election Day Computerized Voters’ Lists (EDVCL) and detainees not being allowed to vote because the EDVCL already contained their signatures and thumbmarks or they had been declared judicially insane. Earlier, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) had said that the barangay polls went smoothly despite some election-related incidents. But it also urged voters to report candidates who may be violating election laws.     Retrieved from: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/332858/news/nation/poll-watchdog-reports-election-offenses-suspension-of-voting

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