Election Guide for Every First-time Voter in the Philippines

First time voters guide Philippines 2022

The 2022 Philippine general election will push through on May 9, 2022, considering that the country is still under alert level 1 or the loosest restriction for Covid-19 until May 15, 2022. This year’s election will be quite different, especially for the first-time voters in the Philippines who did not experience voting in previous years before the pandemic. Voter registration is already closed at this point in time, but if you wish to be registered for the next local election, check this article from BRIA Homes– Voter Registration for 2022 Elections: Know everything in the comfort of your house and lot.

Likewise, the electorate will vote from both the executive and legislative branches of the government– composed of national, provincial, and local, except for the barangay official. 

The topmost ballot will be the election for successors to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo. Aside from the said two highest positions, there will also be elections for the:

  1. 12 seats in the Senate;
  2. 316 seats in the House of Representatives;
  3. 81 governors and vice governors, and 782 seats in provincial boards of all provinces;
  4. 146 city mayors and vice mayors, and 1,650 seats in city councils in all cities; and
  5. 1,488 municipal mayors and vice mayors, and 11,908 seats in municipal councils in all municipalities.

Approximately 65.7 million Filipinos, of which 32.7 million are from the youth sector and five million from the first-time voters in the Philippines, will decide the fate of the country on Monday, May 9, on who will lead the Philippines for the next six years depending on their wise and informed choice. A few voting rules may have changed this year due to the pandemic, making it for the first time voters in the Philippines a little bit challenging, but nevertheless, following the minimum health protocols implemented by the government, it can help to make sure that your ballot as well as of the whole electorate will be counted this coming election. Some required standard health and safety protocols include temperature checks at the entrance, maintaining physical distancing, wearing of face masks at all times, and frequent disinfection of the hands as well as frequently touched surfaces.

The 2022 election can be quite overwhelming and confusing, especially for first-time voters in the Philippines. A lot of them might be asking questions like “Who do I vote for?” or “Where will I vote and how?” as the coming election– May 9, 2022, is fast approaching. But the most basic advice for first-time voters as well as for the active voters is to keep in mind that you will only get one ballot and one chance to vote. You should avoid making any silly mistakes at all costs and you should vote wisely! 

Whether you’re a first-time voter in the Philippines or not, a quick guide below to refresh your mind on what to expect and how to prepare to vote on election day, keeping in mind that this year’s voting process involves some pandemic safety measures that must be observed in the precincts, according to the guidelines released by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC). 

Preparations Before the Election Day- A Must!

The election day is not similar to any other normal day. It is not just as simple as when you will choose what you will wear for the day, or what kind of hairstyle you should do because whatever choice that you will be making on May 9, it will have a huge impact not just on yourself but ultimately on at least 110.8 million Filipinos. So having said that, the 2022 Philippine general election is not something to be taken too lightly where the lives of millions are at stake for the next six years. It follows that before you get and fill out the ballot on May 9, you must do your part first in coming prepared with a well-informed decision and remain level-headed. Some tips are provided below about things to do before the election day.

1. Do your research first.

Read up on who the candidates are for this coming election. Use only reliable and credible sources for gathering information about the candidate so that you can make an intelligent decision on who to vote for that is based on facts and legitimate sources. Search well on their background, and policies and review their previous track records to better inform your decision on May 9. Researching first will help you scope their takes on the issues you care about.

Read Also: What is Local Absentee Voting?

2. Ask the opinions of others.

Seek the opinions of at least three persons, whether within your circles or outside of them or even strangers, about who they support and why. By asking others, you will get a glimpse of their own life story and their own reasons for their support for a candidate. Furthermore, through this process, they will give you a different point of view on the candidates and how their platforms impact others. 

3. Watch debates and interviews from credible sources.

By watching their debates and interviews, you will have an insight into how efficiently they can respond to an on-the-spot issue while under pressure. This is one of the best ways to get to know the candidates and their stand on different issues that may concern you.

4. Verify your voter status.

Are you already a registered voter and ready to vote? Make sure first to verify your voter registration status first before you head to the polling center. Through the Precinct Finder of the COMELEC, you can verify your voter registration status. It will save you from stress and lots of time from finding where your precinct is, instead of finding it out later or on the election day itself that you’re deactivated and not allowed to vote, yikes!

The Precinct Finder, an online service on the COMELEC website, allows you to check your registration records, such as:

● If you’re already registered or not;

● If your registration record is active or deactivated;

● Whether your record has biometrics data;

● Shows your precinct number and polling center; and

● If the website shows that your voter status is “active,” then the COMELEC Precinct Finder will inform you of your assigned polling place and precinct number.

If you did not find your specific precinct or encountered other problems/errors from the Comelec’s Precinct Finder, then you may personally search for your assigned post in your local precinct’s list or go directly to your local election office where you are registered to vote. Lastly, do not forget that voting day is on May 9, 2022, from 6:00 AM to 7:00 PM.

5. Prepare the essentials before the election day.

If you have followed the above preparations before the big day, then by now you should know who to vote for. List down your chosen candidates before going to your polling center to avoid making any accidental markings on your ballot. Likewise, don’t forget to bring your new normal essentials– a face mask, alcohol, and a vaccination card. 

Step-by-Step Guide to Voting during the 2022 Philippine General Election

In The Voting Room

1. Once you have found your polling center, through the above guide, you may now enter the polling place. Only a single entry point in polling places will be made to ensure that health protocols are observed among voters. 

2. Before entering the voting room, an official will check your temperature and examine you for any COVID-19 symptoms. This is mandated by COMELEC that minimum health standards must be followed and everyone must submit COVID-19 health declaration forms. 

Guidelines for taking one’s temperature:

● If 37.4°C and below– The voter can go enter the polling place and vote.

● If 37.5°C and up– The voter will be asked to step aside and rest for a few minutes before checking again.

● If 37.4°C after rechecking– The voter can go ahead.

● But if still 37.5°C and up– The voter will vote in an isolated polling precinct to avoid potentially exposing other voters. At this point, the person who has a temperature above 37.5°C is now presumed to have COVID-19. Thus, the need to be separated and assisted by election workers wearing the proper personal protective equipment. It is important to keep in mind that even if someone is suspected of having COVID-19 or is positive, that person still has the right to vote, based on one’s guaranteed right under the Constitution.

3. Once your temperature has been checked by the officer, you may now proceed to the Voters’ Assistance Desk (VAD) and give your name. You will then secure your specific polling precinct and sequence number and assigned room where you’ll be voting in.

4. After securing the queue and room number from the Voters’ Assistance Desk (VAD), you may now go to your assigned room to vote. Just present yourself to the electoral official in your designated voting room and declare your name, precinct number, and sequence number.

5. After your identity has been established by the electoral board, a COMELEC official will give you your ballot, a ballot secrecy folder, and a marking pen. Bear in mind that you must not accept a ballot with tears, marks, or shades. Better to inspect first your ballot in front of the electoral officer to avoid any hassle later on because after you leave the desk, any marks found will be presumed to be yours.

Voting Proper

6. Once you have received your ballot, a ballot secrecy folder, and a marking pen, you can now proceed to the voting area and fill out the ballot by fully shading the oval beside the name of the candidate you wish to vote for.

Ballots are divided into different sections for national and local elections for positions of President, Vice President, Senator, House of Representatives member, Governor, Vice Governor, Provincial board members, Mayor, Vice-mayor, Councilors, and Party-list.

The following are the maximum number of seats indicated per position to vote for:

a. President – Vote for a maximum of 1 candidate only;

b. Vice president – Vote for a maximum of 1 candidate only;

c. Senator – Vote for a maximum of 12 candidates only;

d. House of Representatives – Vote for a maximum of 1 candidate only;

e. Governor – Vote for a maximum of 1 candidate only;

f. Vice governor – Vote for a maximum of 1 candidate only;

g. Board member – The number of seats per district is different.

h. Mayor – Vote for a maximum of 1 candidate only;

i. Vice Mayor – Vote for a maximum of 1 candidate only;

j. Councilor – The number of seats per municipality or city or district is different.

k. Party-list – Vote for a maximum of 1 group only.

7. Once you’re done with filling out your ballot, keep it inside the ballot secrecy folder for a while and bring it to the Vote Counting Machine (VCM) and insert it into the machine. But do not leave right away. Wait for a while until the machine has processed your vote. Once this is done, a poll officer will mark your finger with indelible ink and will give you your voting receipt for you to review and check if it’s the same as who you voted for. Then put it in the designated box. If however, the receipt did not match who you voted for, bring it to the board of election inspectors to cast your complaint, which will then be put on record. 

And you’re done! You officially cast your vote. To know more about the coming elections, check this article from BRIA Homes– 2022 National and Local Elections: COMELEC Guide for Filipino Voters.

Most Filipinos, if not all, have hit pandemic rock bottom over these past two years. With the country’s recovery at stake, the people need to make an informed decision. You cannot just vote just because you like it, it’s not simple as that. The lives of millions are at stake so you have to think of how your decision will affect other people. Your one vote may seem inconsequential, but come to think of it, if you put that together and vote for the right candidate, it will make a huge difference. The shape of our future starts with your decision of electing the right people so don’t ever waste it. Your vote, our vote matters. It will determine the kind of government that will serve us in the next six years nationally and three years locally. Be part of the solution, not the problem– don’t elect the same people who have abused the Filipino people repeatedly.