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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Omnibus Election Code - Article XIII

OMNIBUS ELECTION CODE
Article XIII

PRECINCTS AND POLLING PLACES

Sec. 149. Precincts and their establishment. - The unit of territory for the purpose of voting is the election precinct, and every barangay as of the approval of this Act shall have at least one such precinct.

The Commission shall establish all election precincts.

The precincts actually established in the preceding regular election shall be maintained, but the Commission may introduce such adjustments, changes or new divisions or abolish them, if necessary: Provided, however, That the territory comprising an election precinct shall not be altered or a new precinct established within forty-five days before a regular election and thirty days before a special election or a referendum or plebiscite.

Sec. 150. Arrangements of election precincts. –

1.  Each election precinct shall have, as far as possible not more than three hundred voters and shall comprise, as far as practicable, contiguous and compact territory.

2.   When it appears that an election precinct contains more than three hundred voters, the Commission shall, in the interest of orderly election, and in order to facilitate the casting of votes, be authorized to divide a precinct not later than one week after the last day of registration of voters.  But the polling place of all the precincts created thereby shall be located in the same building or compound where the polling place of the original precinct is located, and if this be not feasible, in a place as close as possible to the polling place of the original precinct:  Provided, however, That the polling place of the new precinct may be located elsewhere upon written petition of the majority of the voters of the new precinct: Provided, further, That when a precinct is divided into two or more precincts, the registered voters shall be included in the precinct wherein they reside.  Every case of alteration of a precinct shall be duly published by posting a notice of any change in conspicuous location in the precinct, and in the municipal building or city hall, as the case may be.

3.  A municipality which has been merged with another municipality shall constitute at least one election precinct, if the distance between the remotest barangay of the merged municipality and the nearest polling place in the municipality to which it has been merged shall, by the shortest road, exceed five kilometers.

4.  An island or group of islands having one hundred and fifty or more voters shall constitute a precinct.

5.  Any alteration of the election precincts or the establishment of new ones shall be communicated to the provincial election supervisor, the provincial superintendent of schools, etc. together with the corresponding maps, which shall be published as prescribed in the next succeeding sections.

Sec. 151. Publication of maps or precincts. - At least five days before the first registration day preceding a regular election or special election or a referendum or a plebiscite, the Commission shall, through its duly authorized representative, post in the city hall or municipal building and in three other conspicuous places in the city or municipality and on the door of each polling place, a map of the city or municipality showing its division into precincts with their respective boundaries and indicating therein all streets and alleys in populous areas and the location of each polling place.

These maps shall be kept posted until after the election, referendum or plebiscite.

Sec. 152. Polling place. - A polling place is the building or place where the board of election inspectors conducts its proceedings and where the voters shall cast their votes.

Sec. 153. Designation of polling places. - The location of polling places designated in the preceding regular election shall continue with such changes as the Commission may find necessary, after notice to registered political parties and candidates in the political unit affected, if any, and hearing:  Provided, That no location shall be changed within forty-five days before a regular election and thirty days before a special election or a referendum or plebiscite, except in case it is destroyed or it cannot be used.

Sec. 154. Requirements for polling places. - Each polling place shall be, as far as practicable, a ground floor and shall be of sufficient size to admit and comfortably accommodate forty voters at one time outside the guard rail for the board of election inspectors.  The polling place shall be located within the territory of the precinct as centrally as possible with respect to the residence of the voters therein and whenever possible, such location shall be along a public road.  No designation of polling places shall be changed except upon written petition of the majority of the voters of the precinct or agreement of all the political parties or by resolution of the Commission upon prior notice and hearing.

A public building having the requirements prescribed in the preceding paragraph shall be preferred as polling place.

Sec. 155. Building that shall not be used as polling places. - No polling place shall be located in a public or private building owned, leased, or occupied by any candidate or of any person who is related to any candidate within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity, or any officer of the government or leader of any political party, group or faction, nor in any building or surrounding premises under the actual control of a private entity, political party or religious organization.  In places where no suitable public building is available, private school buildings may be used as polling places.  No polling place shall be located within the perimeter of or inside a military or police camp or reservation or within a prison compound.

Any registered voter, candidate or political party may petition the Commission not later than thirty days before the first registration day for the transfer of the polling place from the prohibited buildings provided herein.  Such petition shall be heard and decided by the Commission within twenty days from the filing of the petition.  Failure to effect the transfer of the polling place after the Commission found it to be located in violation of this section within the period prescribed herein shall be a ground for the postponement of the election in the polling place concerned.

Sec. 156. Signs and flags of polling places. - On the day of the voting as well as on any day that the board of election inspectors might meet, every polling place shall have in front a sign showing the number of the precinct to which it belongs and the Philippine flag shall be hoisted at the proper height.

Sec. 157. Arrangement and contents of polling places. - Each polling place shall conform as much as possible to the sketch on the following page.

Sec. 158. Voting booth. - During the voting, there shall be in each polling place a booth for every twenty voters registered in the precinct.  Each booth shall be open on the side fronting the table for the board of election inspectors and its three sides shall be closed with walls at least seventy centimeters wide and two meters high. The upper part shall be covered, if necessary, to preserve the secrecy of the ballot.  Each booth shall have in the background a shelf so placed that voters can write therein while standing and shall be kept clearly lighted, by artificial lights, if necessary, during the voting.

The Commission shall post inside each voting booth and elsewhere in the polling place on the day before the election, referendum and plebiscite a list containing the names of all the candidates or the issues or questions to be voted for, and shall at all times during the voting period keep such list posted in said places.

Sec. 159. Guard rails. –

a.                In every polling place there shall be a guard rail between the voting booths and the table for the board of election inspectors which shall have separate entrance and exit.  The booths shall be so arranged that they can be accessible only by passing through the guard rail and by entering through its open side facing the table of the board of election inspectors.

b.                There shall also be a guard rail for the watchers between the place reserved for them and the table for the board of election inspectors and at a distance of not more than fifty centimeters from the latter so that the watchers may see and read clearly during the counting of the contents of the ballots and see and count the votes recorded by the board of election inspectors member on the corresponding tally sheets.

c.                 There shall also be, if possible, guard rails separating the table of the board of election inspectors from the voters waiting for their turn to cast their votes, with entrance and exit to give them orderly access to the table and the booths during the voting.

d.                The polling place shall be so arranged that the booths, the table, the ballot boxes and the whole polling place, except what is being written within the booths, shall be in plain view of the board of election inspectors, the watchers and other persons who may be within the polling place.

Sec. 160. Ballot boxes. –

1.   There shall be in each polling place on the day of the voting a ballot box one side of which shall be transparent which shall be set in a manner visible to the voting public containing two compartments, namely, the compartment for valid ballots which is indicated by an interior cover painted white and the compartment for spoiled ballots which is indicated by an interior cover painted red.  The boxes shall be uniform throughout the Philippines and shall be solidly constructed and shall be closed with three different locks as well as three numbered security locks and such other safety devices as the Commission may prescribe in such a way that they can not be opened except by means of three distinct keys and by destroying such safety devices.

2.  In case of the destruction or disappearance of any ballot box on election day, the board of election inspectors shall immediately report it to the city or municipal treasurer who shall furnish another box or receptacle as equally adequate as possible.  The election registrar shall report the incident and the delivery of a new ballot box by the fastest means of communication on the same day to the Commission and to the provincial election supervisor.

Sec. 161. Tally boards. - At the beginning of the counting, there shall be placed within the plain view of the board of election inspectors, watchers and the public, a tally board where the names of all the registered candidates or the issues or questions to be voted upon shall be written, and the poll clerk shall record thereon the votes received by each of them as the chairman of the board of election inspectors reads the ballot.

Sec. 162. Furnishing of ballot boxes, forms, stationeries and materials for election. - The Commission shall prepare and furnish the ballot boxes, forms, stationeries and materials necessary for the registration of voters and the holding of the election.

The provincial, city and municipal treasurer shall have custody of such election paraphernalia, supplies and materials as are entrusted to him under the law or rules of the Commission and shall be responsible for their preservation and storage, and for any loss, destruction, impairment or damage of any election equipment, material or document in their possession furnished under this Code.

Sec. 163. Inspection of polling places. - Before the day of the election, referendum or plebiscite, the Chairman of the Commission shall, through its authorized representatives, see to it that all polling places are inspected and such omissions and defects as may be found corrected.  The Commission shall keep the reports on these inspections.

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