Supreme Court affirms order for Comelec to print voter's receipts

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Supreme Court (SC) affirmed on Thursday (March 17) its ruling ordering the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to issue voter's receipts for the 2016 elections.

Related: Supreme Court to Comelec: Issue voter's receipts for 2016 elections

The justices, voting 13-0 — in one of the fastest decisions for a motion for reconsideration — upheld its order after an oral argument.

In its decision with finality, the high court ordered the poll body that on May 9, voters must be provided with a simple receipt that would reflect their choices.

A full receipt will include a voter's ballot I.D., precinct number, and a hashcode, which is the machine's digital signature. These are security features that help in auditing the poll results.

Printing a full receipt will require a change in the source code, and could result in moving the elections to May 23.

Related: May 9 elections possible but risky, Comelec argues

Poll officials argued that the receipts were unnecessary, saying that printing them would stretch voting time, and might cause people to forgo voting.

It also said that voters could use the receipts to sell their votes and that the Comelec would have to reconfigure equipment, purchase over a million rolls of thermal paper, retrain precinct managers, and hire more people.

But the court said that the law required a voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT), and the magistrates believed the receipts would fulfill this.

This means the Comelec will have to work overtime — and double time — to comply with the order.

Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said of the decision: "Happy ako dahil, kumbaga, pwede na tayong umusad. Personally, I wouldn't have done it. Kumbaga, iyun nga. But even if I disagree, I will not be disagreeable. So meaning, susundin namin yung naging desisyon ng ating Korte Suprema."

[Translation: I am happy because we can now move forward. Personally, I would not have done it, but even if I disagree, I will not be disagreeable. We will follow the decision of the Supreme Court.]

For this round of polls, the court allowed the poll body to print out receipts minus information that would link them to their corresponding ballots.

But senatorial candidate Richard Gordon said the simple receipt would be nothing but a "scrap of paper."

He said, "Para yang resibo sa restawran na walang petsa. Hindi mo rin mapapatunayan na nagbayad ka."

[Translation: That would be like getting a restaurant receipt that doesn't have a date on it. You would not be able to prove that you paid.]

But the high court ruled that it would have to do for the meantime for the polls to push through as scheduled — and Comelec could just add features to the receipts in succeeding elections.

CNN Philippines JC Gotinga contributed to this story.