By Atty. Gilberto Lauengco, J.D.
Barangay Elections: Last minute campaign guide (Part 3) – E-Day
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” -- Benjamin Franklin
This is the third and final part of my three part last minute campaign guide for barangay election candidates. Election day or E-Day for the Barangay and SK elections 2023 will be on Monday (Oct. 30). For the first time candidate in the barangay elections, especially for the position of barangay chairman, E-Day will be the most difficult part of the campaign run. All the preparation and campaign activities will be for naught if you were unable to prepare and execute your plan for E-Day.
There are four major concerns for a candidate and campaign team to consider for E-Day operations namely: Get out the Vote (GOTV) activities, vote watcher protocols, logistical support and legal or paralegal teams concerns.
GOTV preparation and execution are often overlooked by many first time candidates. Unfortunately, the general populace do not vote during barangay elections as much as they do in local and national elections. As such, your volunteers must do a little pushing and organizing to get them to go to the polling centers. Ideally, you should have done a practice run the day before E- Day with activities designed to bring your organization’s sphere of influence voters to the precincts. Your volunteer corps should know and practice how they will get voters that you know will vote for you and gently push them to actually take the time to vote. You would be amazed at how many candidates lost because they presume some people will vote for them and realize that these voters forgot or were too busy to go to the polling places. If you have no mechanism to monitor; if your sure voters or sphere of influence voters have gone to the polls, then there is no way to calculate if you got your minimum votes. GOTV also includes people giving out sample ballots in the areas around the polling precincts. Often, some voters have not decided on their vote or do not even know the candidates on E-Day.
Vote watcher protocols are the things you do to train and ensure that the watchers are properly trained and in place on E-Day. Watchers are normally trained on the weekend prior to E-Day. You will need a lawyer or paralegal with vast experience on E-Day preparations. Since the barangay elections are manual, you will need training specialists who have experience on what occurs during election day using manual counting (the older, the better). If you are vetting a watcher training specialist, ask him if he knows what “lansadera” means. If he doesn’t know the term, then, you probably need to find another one. Watchers must be trained on basic rules on voting and what to observe and report. Each watcher must know the name and number of a handler where they can direct questions and ask for help. Each watcher must be fully equipped with their kit that includes their ID, their appointment, protest forms, and pamphlet guide on basic rules. Ideally, in each polling place you have a tent or booth nearby where you have your paralegals and food dispersion center for watcher meals. These booths can also be the place where your leaders can check their list and confirm if their sphere of influence voter has gone to the polls.
There is a saying that amateurs discuss tactics while professionals discuss logistics. This is also true in elections, especially on E-Day. Ensuring that your watchers have their kit, food for five meals and means of communication is not as simple as it looks. Ideally logistics train operations should be practiced to ensure that the things needed are brought on time. Kits should be prepared and given only the day before the elections because if given earlier, the watchers might lose them. Food should be prepared per polling place and NEVER centralized unless needed for certain key places. People often underestimate the effort needed to cook for thousands of watchers in a day. A simple thing like late food deliveries can result in watchers going home. Lastly, you should never forget to give allowances to your watchers.
Finally, even barangay elections would need support from a legal or paralegal team who are versed in election laws. There are often many issues during the voting process that will need quick access to legal opinion. During counting, you will need a legal team who know the many ways that manual counting can go wrong. Your lawyer must have E-Day experience and knows how to think during chaos and at the very least must know what proper watcher placement during counting means. Lastly, your legal team must have direct contact with watcher handlers to lookout for instances of last minute vote buying.
In the end, because of the cacophony of noises during E-Day, you can probably never perfect the proper E-Day preparations. However, you can increase your chances of preventing last minute meltdowns and protect your votes. Preparation and execution is key. If you have any questions please peruse the election campaign Facebook page of Center for Alternative Elections (CAER) at the following link.
This is my oblique suggestion.
Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in the foregoing article are solely the author’s and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) or any other office under the Presidential Communications Office.
About the Columnist
ATTY. GILBERTO LAUENGCO, J.D. is a lawyer, educator, political strategist, government consultant, Lego enthusiast, and the director of CAER Think Tank. He is a Former Vice Chairman of MECO, Special Assistant of NFA and City Administrator among others. His broad experience has molded his unique approach to issues analysis which he calls the oblique observation.