THE Commission on Elections en banc yesterday extended voting hours up to 6 p.m. for those precincts that opened at 9 a.m. or later.
The decision came amid reports that several precincts failed to open at 6 a.m. as scheduled, mostly due to problems with the vote counting machines.
Polling places were supposed to close by 5 p.m.
Comelec chairman Andres Bautista said the 6 p.m. closing covers all precincts that opened at 9 a.m.
Voting in most polling precincts started on time at 6 am, with the public school teachers serving as members of the board of election inspectors trooping to their assigned schools at dawn to do the necessary preparations.
The teachers began with initializing the Vote Counting Machines. There were areas where the initializing of the VCMs were stalled and the BEIs had to seek help from the Smartmatic technicians.
Some VCMs in different polling precincts malfunctioned as voters started casting their ballots. A VCM at a polling precinct at the Padre Burgos Elementary School in Manila stalled after a voter prematurely inserted a ballot.
In Pasig, voting at a clustered precinct in Rizal High School was interrupted for an hour after a VCM malfunctioned. VCMs in San Juan City, Capiz and Masbate reportedly experienced setbacks as well.
Netizens also reported that there were glitches in VCMs in several areas including Buhatan Integrated School in Sorsogon, Concepcion Grande Elementary School in Naga City and in Sarangani.
The most common problems were paper jams.
Meanwhile, Bautista assured the public that there are enough replacement machines that would be available for polling precincts with malfunctioning VCMs.
Voting in some precincts started 30 minutes or even an hour late due to the failure of poll watchers and other representatives to arrive on time, officials explained.
In Aurora A. Quezon Elementary School in Galas, Quezon City, hundreds of voters who arrived before the start of the voting waited for 31 minutes before being allowed to cast their vote.
The reason: Board of Election Inspectors and supervisors said they had to wait for many of the poll watchers to arrive before unsealing the Voters’ Counting Machine and other election paraphernalia. in their presence.