The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to issue voting receipts as a verification mechanism for the electorate in the May 9 elections, the first time the poll body was compelled to issue printouts of voters’ choices since automated counting in the country began in 2010. In a unanimous ruling, the high court ordered the Comelec to use the voter verification paper audit trail in voting machines, which will issue a receipt to each voter after casting his or her ballot. The ruling came just two months before Election Day. “The Commission on Elections is ordered to enable the vote verification feature of the vote-counting machines, which prints the voter’s choices,” the high court said in the dispositive portion of its ruling.
All 14 justices present at Tuesday’s en banc session issued the order in granting the mandamus petition that senatorial candidate Richard Gordon and his party Bagumbayan-VNP Movement Inc., filed on Feb. 22, which said that such “physical record” of a voter’s selections was necessary to ensure a transparent and credible election.
Only Associate Justice Arturo Brion was unable to vote as he was on leave.
In its decision, the high court said the Comelec may issue “guidelines to regulate the release and disposal of the issued receipts to ensure a clean, honest and orderly elections,” including mechanics on the storage of receipts.