First time voters: Thoughts and sentiments on the upcoming elections

By Paul John Garcia and Sir Lawrence Agustin

Voting for the first time is like a first romance, full of excitement, expectations and hope—this is what more than 12 million voters aged 18-25 will be experiencing this 2013 national elections.

Although the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has yet to reveal the total number of first time voters on the May 13 midterm polls, non-government organization (NGO) Kabataan partylist has revealed that roughly 24% of this years registered voters  are from the young population.

As of the last count of Comelec in their January 22 data, a total of 52,014,648 voters  have registered, the highest ever recorded in the history of the electoral system in the Philippines.

“This is a net gain of five million because the (almost) 51 million in 2010 went down to 47 million after delisting. Now it went up again (to 52 million),” said Comelec Spokesperson Atty. James Jimenez in an interview with the Philippine Star dated February 9.

After this pronouncement, journalism students from the University of the Philippines Diliman have conducted an online interview with the first time voters in the country. 12 individuals* from different places all over the country have graciously answered questions concerning this year’s elections. Two of them are from Metro Manila, five from Luzon, three from Visayas and two respondents from Mindanao.

Findings showed that eight out of the 12 respondents said that they are excited to vote because this is the first time that they will exercise their right to suffrage and they recognize their duty as responsible citizens to choose and elect leaders that will serve for the betterment of the country.

“It is important for me because it gives me a say on how the country should be managed. As a Political Science major, I am a great believer in citizen’s involvement. That, for me, is a proof that democracy works,” said John Patrick Pineda, a first time voter from Las Pinas.

Adding to the voters’ excitement is the change from manual to automated system of voting using the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines.

“I expect that the problems experienced by automated voting last year will be lessened if not fully eradicated. The automated casting of votes, per se, is something to look forward to,” Christian dela Cruz, a first time voter from Ilocos Norte, said.

Atty. Jimenez agreed that the huge number of registrants for the coming polls is an indication of the public’s high interest in the automated polls.

“Aside from the fact that the number of Filipinos aged 18 years old and above is rising, obviously there’s also a high interest in the automated elections,” he said in an interview with Philippine Star.

However, with the doubts on the accuracy and reliability of the machines, three out of 12 said that they are NOT excited to vote for the upcoming elections. Besides, up until now, they still do not know some of the candidates running, and if they do, respondents said that the people running for positions do not really represent the basic masses that they want to serve.

On Comelec’s Performance

The Comelec has been receiving criticism not only on the PCOS machines but also with the entire electoral system. Respondents, each from Las Pinas, Cavite, Aklan, Leyte and Davao have agreed that the commission is still hounded by the issues of “lying, cheating, and stealing.”

They recognized the lack of effective law enforcement on gun ban, electoral fraud, vote-buying and the selection process of some “bogus” party lists that for them, do not represent the marginalized sectors.

Contrary to that, according to Comelec Chairman Atty. Sixto Brillantes in his interview with the Philippine Star last February 11, “the Comelec is ready to address any situation that may arise on election day. The Comelec chief pointed out that the poll body got a preview of possible problems that may erupt and compromise the election results.”

Those first time voters from Caloocan, Pangasinan, Oriental Mindoro, Cagayan de Oro, Laguna and Ilocos Norte concurred on this stand by the Comelec. They believe that the poll body is very much visible when it comes to reaching out to people and effective in dealing with their limitless doubts on the automated elections.

This was after Comelec admitted and tried to solve the glitches in some PCOS machines during the mock elections conducted last Feb. 2 in 10 areas across the country.

Respondents also noted the commendable efforts of the commission in their continuous checking of the campaign materials of the candidates, as to whether or not a provision of the law is violated, and that candidates are subjected for disqualification.

Election Expectations

Historically, election related-violence, cheating and electoral fraud have been the problems to the conduct of elections in the country. However, majority of the first time voters that were interviewed is optimistic that this election would be a clean, fast and honest one, while some still believe that this would be a chaotic one considering the different black propaganda of every candidate, massive cheating and failed operations of the PCOS machines.

More than anything else, respondents hope that everyone will choose the right and deserving people in their posts.

“I expect the voters to be more critical with their selection process. Unlike previous elections, people seem to be more involved and aware due to the implications of the massive use of social media,” Marianne dela Cruz of Cagayan de Oro said.

Hope for a Better Elections

More than two months before the May 13 midterm polls, Comelec is still raking on criticism with regard to their performance as the country’s poll body. In order to quell these issues, the first time voters suggest that Comelec should “walk the talk”.

This would mean, according to John Pineda of Las Pinas, that the commission should implement stricter application of rules on gun ban and prevention of electoral sabotage/fraud.

“They should not be contented with mere checkpoints. Also, they should take some threats seriously, i.e. massive purchase of signal jammers, threats of violence, etc. If possible, the Secretary of Justice should be given the power to issue warrants to prevent such occurrences,” he added.

First time voters Raymark Raquid of Caloocan and Rachel Capili of Cavite also shared the same sentiments in reforming the system of Comelec. They suggest starting it by checking and updating the list of active and inactive electors to prevent ghost and flying voters.

Moreover, they propose a segregation of duties so that the power to decide on matters regarding election issues would not solely rely on one person and that would ensure that the decision is not susceptible to any bias.

Above all, the 12 respondents from different places around the Philippines have agreed to call for a clean and decent election because according to them, the public really deserves that much.

*Respondents are picked through self-selection sampling (volunteer respondents) via Twitter and Facebook. The interviewees do not necessarily represent all the first time voters in the country

15 thoughts on “First time voters: Thoughts and sentiments on the upcoming elections

  1. Couldn’t blame those first-time voters who are not excited to vote this upcoming election, because I, too, am having conflicts on deciding who to vote because other candidates do not have concrete platforms and they only focus on their edges against the other candidates when in the first place, it’s their countrymen whom they should take their focus on. Pag tinanong mo yung punto nila sa isang partikular na problema, parang hindi pa sila aware at nagsasanga-sanga pa yung plano nila. Wala namang napatutunguhan yung perspective.

  2. First voters are those who are prone to bribery. Just pray for the betterment of the upcoming election; hope it will be peaceful and successful.

  3. We need to exercise our human right to suffrage. With this, we participate in the “democratic” process of the country notwithstanding the very rampant extrajudicial killings and election-related violence happening across the country. With this right, regardless of the messy and dirty vote count, we learn to express ourselves and speak on behalf of what we represent.

  4. I share the excitement of some of the respondents in this article but I also believe that there is a high tendency that the automated elections would falter inferring from what happened in the previous elections. Aside from that, I find it difficult to choose which candidates to vote for since the party system in our country is not ideology-based. Hence candidates in a particular party could not necessarily have similar sentiments when it comes to governance, rather, they would just be banking on the popularity points that they would get from the party they are in.

  5. I really do hope that there would be less problems regarding the PCOS machine this year. Its miniscule faults might affect the count in a larger scale. I also hope that every senator and local authority would aim for MATUWID NA DAAN, regardless of their parties. Nevertheless, I am also excited to be a part of 2013 election!!!

  6. Although having more registered voters this year may seem a positive news, what matters really is promoting voters education. We should not only look at how Philippine election functions, but how we, as voters, can affect the results through being informed.🙂 Nice article!

  7. I’m really hoping that there would be less technical issues, especially with the PCOS machines, this coming election. I’m also hoping that the turnout of first time voters would be greater than usual. It’s very important for us to be part of this coming election since a great bulk of the votes will come from us. And in a greater sense, we should not only aim for a greater voters turnout from the FTVs but from the whole voting population as well. It’s also very important that we keep ourselves informed and that we exercise critical thinking when we vote.

  8. As a first time voter I am also excited to be a part of the 2013 election. The history of the past elections (cheating, killings and bribery incidents) will always stay in our minds so it’s a little bit scary but then I’m really hoping that this time it will be fair and clean. And since statistics showed that most registered first time voters are from the young population, I guess a more critical election will be done. An informative article, good job!

  9. “Walang pagbabago.” Cliches na to pero sabi nga cliches are cliches because they work for a reason. Ang dahilan na ito ay ang makauring lipunan na ating kinabibilangan kung saan ang iilang naghaharing uri na silang nakaluklok sa puesto ay patuloy na pinagsasamantalahan ang batayang karapatan ng malawak na hanay ng masa upang mapanatili ang kanilang kapangyarihan at ari arian. Maging kritikal, mapanuri sa pagboto mga kasama.🙂

  10. I can’t blame other First time voters who are not getting used to be excited of the incoming 2013 elections as long as they will vote wisely and unselfish.Still, I found excitement for this incoming May Election, knowing that I can truly now exercise my Right of Suffrage mandated by our Constitution because Voting is the highest form of exercising the indirect power of the sovereign people in a democratic republic, Simpleng bagay na nagpapatunay na mayroong boses at kapangyarihan ang bawat isa sa atin na magsimula ng pagbabago tungo sa kaunlaran ng ating bayan..Ito ay isang karapatan na may kaakibat na responsibilidad na hindi natatapos sa pagboto lamang bagkus sa pagboto dapat ng tama gayundin ang pagiging mapanuri sa takbo at sistema ng darating na eleksyon.(^^,)

  11. More than assuring a fair and clean elections, another value that I, as a first time voter, would like to take into account is the quality of choice that we (voters) would make. What I value more is the assurance that every vote is of a person, first timer or not, is of quality (did a background research on politicians, believe in certain pol. ideologies, has look on actions made regarding national issues etc.). I believe that elections always calls for change and that would never be achieved if the same people would take the position. I love to dream and believe that every elections, every voters would take their votes seriously and be able to come up with an “intelligent vote”.

  12. I attended a forum at the UP College of Mass Communication earlier regarding elections and the problems that we might face with the use of the automated system. Despite COMELEC having fixed glitches and upgrading the system, Kontra Daya 2013 laid down possible challenges that we, voters, should be concerned about, since we want our votes to help make the country better. Let us do our best to achieve a clean and successful elections this May 2013. Hopes for ‘Pinas.

  13. i am not really excited with the 2013 elections. Why? first, i dont vote. Second, I dont think that there are candidates that will help its constituents. third, elections here in the philippines is more likely to be a pageant, the most amusing personality will win and get the chance to serve the people or are they really serving? There will be no problem with our election if the candidates are respecting each other. but respect is so elusive in a sense that it is just like unicorn, we believe that it is existing, thats why we are not able to achieve what we want with our elections. its really good that last national elections ended up good with some little problems but it was inevitable. the comelec should now ensure the integrity of the PCOS machines. the future our country is once again in the hands of its constituents. i believe that with good and better understanding with the current situation of our nation will serve as an avenue to be more critical in selecting the leaders we want to sit on our government. i am hoping that the young voters that this article is saying should initiate fair judgment and help the philippines move on.

  14. i am not yet a voter, i was not able to register that’s is why i am not excited with 2013 elections. but still, i wanna voice out my thoughts because i care for our nation. Elections here in the philippines is more likely to be a pageant, the most amusing personality will win and get the chance to serve the people–are they really serving? are we not getting tired of this kind of set up?

    There will be no problem with our election if the candidates are respecting each other. but respect is so elusive in a sense that it is just like unicorn, we believe that it is existing, thats why we are not able to achieve what we want with our elections. its really good that last national elections ended up good with some little problems but it was inevitable. the comelec should now ensure the integrity of the PCOS machines. the future of our country is once again in the hands of its constituents. i believe that with good and better understanding with the current situation of our nation will serve as an avenue to be more critical in selecting the leaders we want to sit on our government. i am hoping that the young voters that this article is saying should initiate fair judgment and help the philippines move on and get away from the quicksand of problems.

    we should not just get excited with the election, we should really anticipate what will happen to our nation if we vote this specific candidate. we should not be blinded with what they are showing and saying on their advertisement, we should look behind its hubris. be more critical.

  15. First time voters,like me, are excited because we finally have the chance to choose and judge the candidates. Unlike before, puro opinyon lang tayo pero hindi naman talaga napapansin, ngayon may chance na tayo para mamili talaga kung sino yung sa tingin natin ay deserving. And we should cooperate for a cleaner election.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s