It took 2 hours and 45 minutes but it was done. I could complain... that it was too hot, that the seats weren't made for adults like me, that the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) weren't competent enough handling the crowd, but that wouldn't be saying much does it? It's that way each election. So I've decided instead to take you through it.
This is the school where I go to exercise my right. Not a bad place at all. Time In: 11:55am
First stop: The voter's list. This is really harder than it looks, because really, who remembers their voting precinct no.? It's hard enough recalling our Brgy. no., turns out I'm at 1456-A.
This is the holding area where we wait our turn to vote.I know that it doesn't look like much... but that's actually 13 people to a row and I'm 5 rows back. This would've been alright if there was proper queuing system, at least you know you'd end up in front eventually... except there wasn't. The system was simple, somebody distributes the number to the first row, they leave to go to the next room, then there's a mad dash to take over their places. Order was finally achieved when some members of the PPCRV came up and established a more sensible if still messy queuing system.
Time: 1:30pm, finally got a number! No, it's not as bad as it seems. I'm not no. 50 in line, more like 22nd, it's just that they only 50 numbers to give out and they only give it to the first line (and 2nd line in my case -- told you it was still messy). You may ask, why not give everyone in the room numbers then you won't have to worry if people jump the queue? Because people kept going home when they get numbers.
After that, you get called, you enter the next room (sorry, no more photos here, we're not allowed to lest we happen to document one of their mess-ups) where you are given a ballot as tall as GMA, a marker that bleeds through the ballot when you shade, and a ballot secrecy folder you won't use because the desk is too freaking small to for the ballot, much less the folder.
Here is a sample of the desk I was referring too. Same desk that I had to sit on for over 2 hours waiting in line. I placed my bag for reference. That bag is smaller than my back, can you imagine how I would fit there?
After you're done with the ballot, you approach the PCOS machine1.The BEI will instruct you to reverentially hold the ballot and slowly attempt to feed it into the machine and pray that it will not reject it. Ok, that last part about asking you to pray wasn't true, but I could see it in her face that she was sorta praying. After that: "Congratulations! You're vote has been verified." Finally, you thumbmark a form and your index finger gets "manicured" with indelible ink.
And I'm done. Time:2:40pm.
Yes it was needlessly long. The last 2 times I went to vote it took me less than 30 mins. to do so, and I was being OC about my choices then writing their full names and such. And here, the actual voting took less than 10 mins. It's the queuing system plus the fact that they tried to fit 4 or 5 precinct per machine that caused this delay. That coupled by the sweltering heat and the infant sized chair caused me the most discomfort. Yet, it felt as if the time was flying. I didn't even resort to my usual habit of reading (mainly because the chair was too cramped to manage something like that). Sure I was SMS-ing, but it's not that, it was the excitement of being there with fellow citizens excited to do their part for our country. It was the exhilaration of once again being part of history however small my part would be. It's the anticipation of something better in store for us. For if we can make this election work, imagine what else we can succeed at?
So at this point, it hardly matters to me whether my presidential candidate ends up winning or not, or that half of the senators I selected won't get elected. That's the way the system is, right now and however imperfect it is, I believe that we should continue to work with the system. Its imperfection stems from the lack of voter education. And I believe we're making a big headway in that area (if you don't believe that, just think of how many people were averse to automation a year ago vs how many of us are now familiar with every issue there is about it now?). Eventually (sooner rather than later I hope), enough of the electorate will mature, and then we will have better outcomes. Certainly that prospect is worth waiting close to 3 hours for. Don't you think?
1Precinct Count Optical Scan -- sorry, no photos of that too, but it's basically a fax scanner fitted atop a locked garbage bin.Here's a photo I found somewhere.