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Briefing on Ballot Appreciation

Rules for the 28 October 2013 Barangay SK Elections

As much as possible, the BEI is mandated to discover or decipher the intention of


the voter.
Who will appreciate ballot?
Board of Election Tellers (BET) composed of public school teachers: Chairman,
Poll Clerk and Third Member

Comelec Resolution No. 9751 (Promulgated 5 August 2013) --- see separate
file
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When we say the Board of Election Tellers (BET), it is for the Barangay Elections;
when we say the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI), it is for the Local or National
Elections. (I dont know the difference between the two terms but what I know is
that they perform one and the same function, except that the Board of Election
Tellers have this power to appreciate votes. That is the heart and soul of the powers
and functions of the BET.)

Public school teachers with temporary appointment cannot serve as BET.


After counting, BET must always furnish watchers with Certificate of Votes.
The BET must always decide by majority vote.
Upon entering the polling place, the watcher shall present to the BET Chairman
his or her watchers appointment duly signed by the candidate only.
During ballot appreciation, the watcher may hold the Official Ballot to make sure
the Chairman read what was written in it.
During ballot appreciation, watchers shall file written objection and should
remain silent during the entire voting and counting.
Watchers are allowed to take photographs of the BET proceedings except the
Official Ballot, especially when read by the Chairman.
On Election Day, casting of votes start at 7am until 3pm only.
The BET cannot conduct preliminaries to voting at 6am if no watchers are
around.
Lawyers of candidates are not allowed inside the polling place except to vote.
To save time, the BET Chairman may authenticate all Official Ballots during
preliminaries to voting.
Before counting, the BET is allowed to unfold the Official Ballots to determine
whether there are marked ballots.
During ballot appreciation, watchers may verbally tell the BET Chairman that a
certain vote should be counted in favor of a certain candidate.
In ballot appreciation, every ballot is presumed valid unless there is clear and
good reason to justify its rejection.
A vote is valid even if it contains prefixes such as Sir, Gov., Mr.
A ballot written in crayon is not valid.
A sticker bearing the name of a candidate may be pasted on the ballot and
counted in favor of the candidate bearing his name.
At the end of counting, the votes of each candidate shall be totalled in words
and figures. If candidate gets 40, it should be written 40 followed by fourty.
During ballot appreciation, the watchers may agree among themselves whether
a certain vote is counted in favor of a certain candidate.
All ties must be broken by drawing of lots.

BET Qualifications
Of good moral character and irreproachable reputation
Registered voter of city or municipality (where they are assigned on the day of
the elections)
Able to speak and write Filipino, English or the local dialect
Never been convicted of any election offense or any other crime punishable by
more than 6 months of imprisonment
No pending case for election offense
Take note that in the first, it requires conviction but it refers actually to any other
crime punishable by more than 6 months of imprisonment; because if there is a
pending election offense faced by the BET, even if it is still pending, automatically
they are disqualified.
BET Disqualification
Relationship within the 4th civil degree of consanguinity or affinity to:

Any member of same BET

Any candidate of the barangay where he serves


BET Powers and Functions
Conduct voting and counting of votes within their polling place
Act as deputies of the Commission in the supervision and control of the election
Maintain order within the polling place
The BETs authority is supreme. They act as a judge inside the polling
place. Whatever they say and do is final and executory; there is no appeal
and there is no motion for reconsideration inside the polling place.
Prohibit use of cellular phones and camera by the voters
Remember that the prohibition is only the use. You can bring a
cellphone/camera but you cannot use it inside the polling place.
Enforce obedience to its lawful orders
Order peace officer or any competent person to take the disobedient to custody
Power to issue warrant of arrest
Who can be arrested? A BET member who does not appear on Election Day
with the purpose to sabotage the performance of election functions. If, in
their opinion, one member is absent because he wants to prevent the
others from performing their election duties, they can have that member
arrested by the PNP to bring him to the polling place so that he can
perform his official duties.
Power to order any peace officer to take into custody any disobedient person
Authority is supreme inside the polling place
Perform quasi-judicial functions

What is ballot appreciation?


It is the determination of the vote using the information written on the official
ballot by the voter, his or her intention and for whom it is, or should, be
counted, based on existing rules.
It is when the BEI decides whether or not a certain vote can be counted in favor
of a certain candidate.
It is the equivalent of Ballot Revision in case of an election protest.
For manual elections, ballot appreciation is done by the BEI. However, in
automated elections, ballot appreciation is done by the PCOS machine.
What is the objective of ballot appreciation during election?
to obtain the expression of the voters will

Many lawyers in the Comelec say that they perform only administrative
functions inside the polling place but in my opinion they perform quasijudicial functions because they actually interpret and apply legal provisions
in the conduct of voting and counting of votes especially during ballot
appreciation.
Power to administer oath
They are not notaries public but they can administer oath over election
documents.
Power to order detail of AFP or PNP (if, in their opinion, they need the AFP or
PNP to maintain order inside the polling place)
Remember, the AFP or PNP are not allowed inside the polling place or
within a 50-meter radius from the polling place except to vote. However,
they can be summoned by the BET to be near enough to be called anytime
in case the need arises.

Within premises of prison or detention compound of any law enforcement


or investigation agency
The Comelec through the Election Officer may authorize transfer of counting of
votes
Must be recorded in the Minutes

Who are allowed inside the polling place?


Members of the BET
Watchers who stay in designated area
Voters casting their votes
Voters waiting for their turn to vote
Voters waiting for their turn to get ballots
Jail/Prison escorts for detainee voters
Members of SBET (Special Board of Election Tellers)
Others specifically authorized by the Commission

Power to screen watchers


If you are a watcher, what you need to present the moment you get inside
the polling place is your appointment as a watcher. Without your
appointment as a watcher, the BET can decline your presence inside the
polling place.
Power to prohibit lawyers and candidates from the polling place
Lawyers and candidates are not allowed inside the polling place except to
vote. They cannot stay to witness the proceedings because that function
pertains to the watchers who are virtually the representatives or lawyers of
the candidates inside the polling place.

Take note that this enumeration is exclusive except the one in the last part (i.e.,
others specifically authorized). It is exclusive in the sense that you cannot see the
name of the lawyer or the name of the candidate.
Who are NOT allowed inside the polling place?
Any officer or member of the AFP or PNP
Any peace officer or armed person belonging to any extra-legal police agency,
special, reaction, strike forces, CAFGU, paramilitary forces, special forces,
security guards, special policemen
All other kinds of armed or unarmed extra legal police forces
Barangay tanods
Incumbent barangay or SK official, whether elected or appointed

What is the extent of BET power and authority to appreciate ballot?


It must be public and witnessed by the watchers
Held at the designated polling place
Watchers are afforded unimpeded view of the ballot when read, WITHOUT
TOUCHING IT
Remember that the official ballot is virtually untouchable; it cannot be
touched (even by the candidate or the lawyer). Only the BET Chairman can
touch the ballot.
BET performs quasi-judicial function, decides as a collegial body & by majority
vote
In case of disagreement, they decide by majority vote.
BET acts through the Chairman
The BET, although collegial, acts through the Chairman. Whatever the BET
decides on, it is promulgated by the Chairman.
BET decision is final and un-appealable
BET by unanimous vote recommends in writing
Majority of watchers present endorses in writing
Grounds imminent danger of widespread

Violence

Terrorism

Disorder

Similar causes of comparable magnitude

I am talking here about Barangay Elections because, again, in the Local and
National Elections there is no more Ballot Appreciation. It is the PCOS machine that
appreciates or counts the ballot.
Who can be appointed as watchers?
Registered voter of the barangay where he or she is assigned
Of good reputation
Not convicted by final judgment for any election offense or any other crime
Knows how to read and write Filipino, English or any of the prevailing local
dialect
Not related within 4th civil degree of consanguinity or affinity to any member of
the BET where he or she is assigned
Rights and duties of watchers
Stay in the space reserved for them inside the polling place
Witness the proceedings of the BET
Take note of what they may see or hear
Take photographs of the BET proceedings, election returns, ballot boxes, tally
board
In case of discrepancy between the election returns and the tally board, the
election returns prevail.
However, they cannot take photographs of the official ballot because of the
secrecy and sanctity of the ballots.
File a protest against any irregularity or violation of law he BELIEVES may have
been committed by BET or any person

How to transfer counting of votes?


Nearest safe barangay or school building
Not located within perimeter of or inside

Military or police camp, reservation

Headquarters, detachment or field office

Obtain from BET certificate of its filing and/or its resolution


Unimpeded view of the ballot being read, election returns and tally board,
WITHOUT TOUCHING THEM
Be furnished, UPON REQUEST, with certificate of votes, duly signed and thumb
marked by the BET
But they shall not speak to any BET, voter, or among themselves, in such a
manner as would disturb BET proceedings
They are allowed to speak provided it is only for clarificatory questions.
They cannot orally argue; once they argue, they will be asked to put that in
writing. The proceeding of the BET is supposed to be solemn.

What are the basic rules in ballot appreciation?


Every ballot is PRESUMED VALID unless there is clear & good reason to justify its
rejection
In other words, rejection or considering it as a stray vote/ballot is the last
resort. As much as possible, the BET must give life to the intention of the
voter.
In case of doubt, the intention and expression of the voters will must be
carefully determined
Questions are decided by majority of BET

Vote is counted in favor of the candidate with such surname because of


Superiority of Surname Rule
Example: One candidates first name is Juan; while another candidates
surname is Huwan. Even if what is written is Juan, it will be counted in
favor of Huwan because of Superiority of Surname Rule and Idem Sonas
Rule.
If there are 2 or more candidates with the SAME full name, first name or
surname, and one of them is incumbent:

Vote is counted in favor of the incumbent


Example: Candidate A is Juan dela Cruz. Candidate B is Juan dela Cruz and
is the incumbent. The one who will get the vote is the incumbent, by virtue
of the Equity of the Incumbent Rule. **
If there is a woman who uses her maiden name or married surname or both and
there is a candidate with the same surname:

Ballot bearing such surname only shall be counted in favor of the


incumbent
For example: Woman Candidate is Leviste; Incumbent is Leviste. Vote goes
to the incumbent Leviste by virtue of the Equity of the Incumbent Rule. **

** Remember, you only apply the Equity of the Incumbent Rule if one of the
candidates is incumbent. However, if none of them is incumbent, no one gets the
vote.

No watcher, candidate or any other person is allowed to participate

Except when watcher files protest

Recorded in the minutes


If there is a question as to ballot appreciation, only the three BET will
decide. Watchers cannot participate; they cannot argue. They can just file a
written protest.

4 Basic Rules in Ballot Appreciation (Ferrer v Comelec, GR No. 139489, 10


April 2000)*
1. Intent rule *
- What is the intention of the voter?
2. Neighborhood rule *
3. Idem sonas rule *
Idem Sonas: sounding the same or alike; having the same sound. A term
applied to names which are substantially the same, though slightly varied in
the spelling.
Even if the spelling is wrong but if it sounds alike, it will be counted in favor of
the candidate.
4. Equity of the incumbent rule *
Apply this rule only when one of the candidates is incumbent
5. Superiority of surname rule

* The first four rules are provided for in the case of Ferrer v. Comelec, the
Superiority of surname rule is based on the opinion of Atty. Gujilde.

How to appreciate ballot?


If only the FIRST NAME or SURNAME of the candidate is written:

Vote is VALID provided there is no other candidate with the same first name
or surname for the same office
Example: The candidate is Juan Cruz. Juan is okay provided there is no
other candidate by that name. Cruz is okay provided there is no other
candidate by that surname.
If only the FIRST NAME of the candidate is written, which when read, has a
SOUND SIMILAR to the surname of another candidate:

If 2 or more surnames are written on the SAME LINE on the ballot:

Not counted for either of them unless one of them is an incumbent who has
served for at least 1 year
For example: Rama Osmea; since the incumbent is Rama, then the vote
goes to RAMA.
If 2 or more SIMILAR SURNAMES are written on DIFFERENT LINES for an office
which authorizes election of more than 1 and there are the same number of
candidates with same surname:

Votes shall be counted for all


For example: For councilor, three candidates have the surname Tan
If the voter writes Tan on three lines for Councilor, everybody gets a
vote.
If the voter writes only on two lines, nobody gets a vote unless one of
them is incumbent. In that case, the incumbent gets one vote and not
two votes.
If both were incumbent, each one gets one vote.
If the two candidates are incumbent and only one surname is written,
nobody gets a vote.
If a single work is written, which is the first name of a candidate and the
surname of another:

Vote shall be counted for the candidate bearing the SURNAME


For example: The first name of Candidate A is Rodrigo and the surname of
Candidate B is Rodrigo, the vote goes to Candidate B by virtue of
Superiority of Surname Rule.
If 2 words are written on the SAME LINE, one of which is the first name of a
candidate and the surname of another:

Vote shall NOT be counted for EITHER


For example: Michael Osmea; nobody gets a vote even if one of them is
incumbent.

A name or surname incorrectly written, which when read, has a sound similar to
the name or surname of a candidate:

Vote shall be counted in favor of such candidate


For example: Cruise instead of Cruz; vote shall be counted by virtue of
Idem Sonas Rule.
The purpose of the Idem Sonas Rule is to give life to the intention of the
voters who cannot correctly write the name of the candidate.
Another example: Prada instead of Rada or Rad instead of Rada;
for as long as it sounds alike, vote is still counted.
If a name of the candidate for the position he aspires for is written and on
another position he does not aspire for:

Vote shall be counted in the position he aspires for, BUT if it is intended to


identify the ballot, it becomes VOID
For example: Selma is written for Mayor and Selma is also written for
Councilor but the candidate is running for Mayor, the vote for Mayor shall
be counted but the vote for Councilor shall be considered a stray vote.
When we say of a stray vote, meaning only that vote is invalidated. It does
not invalidate the entire ballot.
However, if it is intended to identify the ballot, it becomes void (MARKED
BALLOT).
Before the BET counts the ballots or appreciates the ballots, they sort the
ballots to check if there are marked ballots. Once they find a marked ballot,
automatically it is voided; everything in the ballot is void.
If the name of the candidate is ERASED and another clearly written (meaning,
the voter changed his mind at the last minute:

Vote shall be counted in favor of the new name


If the initial of a first name, middle name or surname is incorrect:

Vote is valid and shall be counted (unless the BET thinks it is a marked
ballot)
If the name of a candidate is the same as the name of another who is not a
candidate:

Vote is counted for candidate

If there are prefixes or suffixes:

Vote is still valid


For example: Sir Michael Rama, Don Tomas Osmea
Nicknames and appellations of affection and friendship accompanied by first
name or surname is VALID:

Nickname ONLY, valid if candidate is generally or popularly known in the


locality
Initials only, illegible and do not sufficiently identify candidate:

Stray but will not invalidate whole ballot


However, if the BET thinks that it is a marked ballot, the entire ballot will be
voided.
Correct first name with different surname OR correct surname with different first
name:

Stray but will not invalidate whole ballot


Ballot written with crayon, lead pencil, or ink (wholly or in part):

Valid unless used to identify the ballot, in which case it is considered a


MARKED ballot and should be considered VOID
Unless used to identify the ballot, in which case, it is will be considered a
marked ballot and should be considered void.
If there are 2 or more candidates written in a single position:

The vote shall not be counted for either or all but does not affect validity of
the others

If the candidates voted for EXCEED the number of those to be elected:

Ballot is valid but counted only for those firstly written until the authorized
number is covered
Vote for non-candidate and for a candidate for an office he did not aspire for:

Stray but does not invalidate the entire ballot


Ballot containing name of candidate PRINTED, PASTED OR AFFIXED THROUGH
ANY MECHANICAL PROCESS:

TOTALLY NULL AND VOID


It will be null and void for being affixed through mechanical process or for
being a marked ballot.
Circles, crosses or lines on blank spaces:

Indicate desistance from voting and shall not invalidate the ballot
Unless used to identify the ballot, in which case, it is will be considered a
marked ballot.
Commas, dots, lines or hyphens between the first name and surname or in
other parts of the ballot; traces of the letters T, J; two or more kinds of
writing; use of accidental flourishes, strokes or strains:

Does not invalidate ballot, unless it clearly appears to have been


deliberately done to identify the ballot
Ballot which appears to have been filled by 2 distinct persons:

NULL AND VOID


If the space for Punong Barangay is blank, but the name of the candidate for
Punong Barangay is written in the first line for Barangay Kagawad:

Count in favor of the candidate pursuant to the Neighborhood Rule


If there are blank spaces between the space for Punong Barangay and
the space for Barangay Kagawad where the name of the Punong
Barangay candidate is written, the Neighborhood Rule will no longer
apply.
If there is a candidate, running as Barangay Kagawad, having the same
name as the candidate for Punong Barangay and the name is written
in the space for Barangay Kagawad, then the vote will be counted for
the Barangay Kagawad candidate.
If the candidate for Punong Barangay has the same surname with a
candidate for Barangay Kagawad and the same surname is written on
the first two spaces for Barangay Kagawad, the vote may be counted
for Punong Barangay and Barangay Kagawad by virtue of the
Neighborhood Rule. (It actually depends on how the BET will
appreciate the votes, for as long as they have a basis.)
Vote for candidate disqualified BY FINAL JUDGMENT:

Stray but will not invalidate the entire ballot


Ballots wholly written in Arabic in localities where it is of general uses are valid
Accidental tearing or perforation of ballot does not invalidate it
Failure to remove detachable coupon does not annul ballot

Take note that the Neighborhood Rule is not found in the Omnibus Election Code. It
is found in jurisprudence. That is actually a concept made by the HRET (House of
Representatives Electoral Tribunal).
What is the concept or logic behind the Incumbent Rule?
Remember that, as much as possible, we need to find out or discover the intention
of the voter. Because he is the incumbent, the tendency is, supposedly, the voter is
more familiar with the incumbent since he is the one serving them. There is a
presumption of familiarity.

In automated elections, since it is the PCOS machine that counts, there are no
second chances. Thus, if you commit a mistake, you cannot ask for another ballot.

Another example, for Senators: If you vote for only one candidate, that is allowed
and that will be counted by the machine. If you vote for twelve candidates, twelve
votes will also be counted. However, if you vote for thirteen candidates, nobody gets
a vote since you exceeded the allowable slots for that position; but, the entire ballot
is not invalidated.

For example, you wanted to vote for Candidate B but you marked the circle beside
the name of Candidate A and you marked that circle X and marked the correct circle
beside Candidate B. That will not be counted by the machine and will be invalidated;
but, that will not invalidate the entire ballot.