Glitches on 1st day of poll registration: COMELEC field officials turn to Facebook

Field Officials of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) had Facebook, the hugely popular social networking site, to thank for solutions to glitches that marred the first day of voters’ registration in all areas nationwide except the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The COMELEC has again started the voters’ registration process last May 3, 2011 adopting biometrics technology which requires registrants to enter their biometric data (photograph, signature and thumb mark) in the registration process.

But the first day didn’t turn out to be problem free as a number of technical glitches in the COMELEC’s data capturing machines caused long lines in poll offices, irate registrants and even a scuffle at Makati’s poll office.

As expected phone lines at the COMELEC’s Information Technology Department (ITD) where busy because of the deluge of calls from COMELEC field officials who wanted solutions to problems such as inability or delay in photo capturing and a host of program glitches in the voters’ registration system (VRS), among others.

Enterprising Election Officers – who were also becoming exasperated not only because of the repeated busy tone on the other end of the line but also of nagging registrants waiting for their turn – however, has turned to Facebook for answers.

The FB group of the Alliance of COMELEC Employees in Service (ACES) was abuzz on May 3 as curious and/or infuriated Election Officers used the group page to air their concerns and other grievances.

One Election Assistant from Mindanao posted, “tumigas na ung applicant sa ka ka retake ng picture!” apparently complaining about the VRS camera that automatically captures the applicant’s pictures. He and others learned later that they only need to “uncheck the Auto Take and Auto Crop Boxes” in the VRS’ control panel menu, thanks to a post of a fellow employee in the ACES FB thread.

One Election Official from Southern Tagalog complained of having problems in the ‘validation’ process. Another griped about the need to literally “light up” the faces of applicants when taking their picture because of the dusky image that pops out of the computer screen. Because of this, a member even joked that “parang sisiw applicant na nakasalang sa vrs at tinatapatan pa ng ilaw nung isang staff hehe, wawa naman.”

COMELEC field officials must be commended for their efforts in making the first day of the year long poll registration a success despite the minor glitches.

They did a good job in ensuring that those who flocked to their offices were registered so they may vote in the 2013 elections and beyond. They did their best to find solutions to the problems that arose in the process that they even used Facebook to connect with other COMELEC personnel.

This is a testament to their commitment to serve the public.

FYI: Voters’ registration will run from May 3, 2011 until October 31, 2012.