Here’s the short answer: No. No one is supposed to trace your vote back to you. A Filipino’s vote is confidential and private and there are laws that protect all of us from anyone who will violate this. But in case you’re worried about anyone tracing your vote back to you, here’s why you can relax.
You have a right to privacy
Filipinos are gifted with the right to exercise suffrage, and in doing so, “the Congress shall provide a system for securing the secrecy and sanctity of the ballot.” The government itself has mandated that voting is private for each individual. Tracking someone’s vote would be a violation of that right and this has consequences. But how else can you be sure?
Voting is anonymous
The ballots used for voting are made uniform and therefore should not be marked to identify any person. It should only contain information on your region, the cluster of precincts, and the clustered precinct ID. Each precinct could include dozens to a few hundred voters so it would be a challenge for anyone to find out which ballot is yours specifically.
Your watchers and polling clerks are also warned against discussing whether someone has already voted or not. The Omnibus Election Code Article XVII Section 205 on the “Prohibition of premature announcement of voting” states that:
“No member of the board of election inspectors shall, before the termination of the voting, make any announcement as to whether a certain registered voter has already voted or not, as to how many have already voted or how many so far have failed to vote, or any other fact tending to show or showing the state of the polls, nor shall he make any statement at any time, except as witness before a court, as to how any person voted.”
Your voting information should be safe in the hands of honest watchers.
Voter receipts aren’t allowed to be taken home
Once you’re done voting and your ballot is fed into the Vote Counting Machine (VCM), you’ll be given a printout of your voter’s receipt. It contains a summary of your vote so you can review and file a complaint about mistakes. That’s probably the only time anyone can find out who you voted for which is why poll clerks are instructed to help voters check the receipt privately. No one can take home their voter’s receipt. After you check it, it will be dropped in a designated box which, again, shouldn’t be traced back to you.
But what if someone finds out who I voted for?
Given everything we’ve established so far, no one should be able to know who you voted for. But if someone does happen to find out, you already know they used illegal means to do so. If that happens, you can file a complaint with COMELEC to have the incident investigated. Earlier this year, COMELEC spokesman James Jimenez provided an email address where Filipinos can report election offenses: email@example.com.
All that being said, Filipinos need not fear those who force them to vote for a specific candidate they personally do not want to elect. At the end of the day, it all boils down to whose name your conscience will let you shade on that ballot. It boils down to who you envision to lead the country in the next six years.
How to vote on May 9: Reminders pre-elections
Take note of your polling precinct ahead of the elections. You can check for yours through COMELEC’s online precinct finder or through the COMELEC voter information sheet which every registered voter should receive.
Come with a prepared list of who you’re going to vote for. You can use COMELEC’s 2022 National and Local Ballot Face Templates as a guide. It’s categorized into regions and districts and features a complete list of national and local candidates.
Don’t forget to bring a pen, your face mask, and a face shield (for those in areas under Alert Level 4). COVID-19 vaccination cards or negative test results are not required before you can vote. Voters are also encouraged to bring government IDs for verification but these aren’t a requirement.
How to vote on May 9: At the precinct
Precincts are expected to be open from 6 AM to 7 PM. However, COMELEC did say that they might extend the voting period if lines are still long even after 7 PM. Since we’re still in the middle of a pandemic, social distancing and lining up will be practiced so make sure you come early to finish early.
Health protocols will be practiced so expect to get your temperature checked.
Once at your precinct, you will be given your ballot. Make sure it’s a clean one with no marks, otherwise any mark made after you accept it will be considered yours. Fill out the ballot by fully shading the circle beside your candidate’s name.
How to vote on May 9: What’s on the ballot?
Here’s a quick list of who you need to vote for:
- (1) President
- (1) Vice President
- (12) Senator
- (1) House of Representatives
- (1) Governor
- (1) Vice governor
- Board member – The number of seats per district varies
- (1) Mayor
- (1) Vice Mayor
- Councilor – The number of seats per municipality or city or district varies
- (1) Party-list
Remember that you can’t go over the required number of votes. For example, if you vote for 13 senators when you only need to choose 12, your senatorial vote will be considered invalid. You can, however, undervote.
How to vote on May 9: After voting
Once you’re done, keep your ballot inside the secrecy folder and insert it into the VCM. Afterward, a poll clerk will mark your finger with indelible ink and show you your voting receipt for review. If everything checks out, you drop the receipt in a designated box. But if you notice that it doesn’t reflect your vote, alert the board of election inspectors and they will help you sort it out.