Authorities check the vote-counting machine at a poll precinct in Cauayan South Central School in Cauayan City during the mock elections Wednesday, Dec. 29. | Photo by Villamor Visaya Jr.)

By Villamor Visaya Jr., Philippine News Agency stringer and Philippine Daily Inquirer correspondent

CITY OF CAUAYAN, Isabela––A vote-counting machine (VCM) in Cordon town, Isabela province malfunctioned, while a low voter turnout was noted there and in two precincts in this city during the simultaneous mock elections held Wednesday, Dec. 29.

“Everything is smooth except for a VCM in Cordon which did not start although it was immediately replaced,” lawyer Jerbee Anthony Cortez, Cagayan Valley assistant regional election director, and concurrent Cauayan City election officer-in-charge, told the Inquirer.

Election officials, police, and other government executives monitored the simulated elections to ensure the safe staging of the mock elections.

Cortez said lack of information before the mock election led to the low turnout, but they went ahead to simulate the actual voting, counting, and transmission of results from the precinct level up to the city, provincial, and national board of canvassers.

“For now, we set 100 voters per precinct, but in the actual elections, a precinct will have a maximum of 800 registered voters. We test the process for the smooth elections come May 2022, so after the voting, we will transmit electronically up to the central office’s national board of canvassers,” he added.

Cortez said they had expected a low turnout due to the strict health protocols, adding that the simulated elections would help them gauge the conduct of the May 2022 elections.

He said the election office had limited the voting with 10 people at one time inside polling precincts to allow social distancing.

The actual voting hours of 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. would be followed on May 9, 2022, and not during the simulated elections, Cortez said.#