Here’s the video of the Chairman speaking about the possible thirteenth Senatorial slot for the 2013 elections.
In summary, the COMELEC’s concerns revolve around two things: first, the instructions to the PCOS; and second, how the various political parties will configure their slates.
Instructions to PCOS, not changes to the ballot.
Ordinarily, the PCOS will be instructed to search for 12 or less votes for the Senatorial race. If you vote for less than 12, the PCOS will record the number of votes you indicated and the rest will be recorded as abstentions. This is called an under-vote. But if you vote for more than twelve, then all your votes for Senator will be considered stray, and therefore will not be credited to anyone. This is called an OVER-VOTE.
So, if the Senate does declare a vacancy – in the event of Senator Santiago leaving to serve on the ICC – it is essential that the COMELEC give the PCOS specific instructions to search for 13 or less votes for the Senatorial race. If the COMELEC does not do this, then any ballot that has thirteen votes in the senator box will have those votes considered stray.
Just as a clarification, there is no adjustment necessary to the ballot itself – except perhaps for the printed instruction to “Vote for 13 Senators.”
The other thing the COMELEC is concerned about is how many candidates for Senate the various political parties will be fielding. If it isn’t clear by the period for filing Certificates of Candidacy how many positions are being contested, then some political parties might actually file just 12 COCs when they could be filing 13.
Obviously, the number of Senatorial hopefuls is entirely up to the political parties. However, it is in the interest of the orderly administration of elections that all parties – whether or not they intend to field 13 – are aware of how many Senatorial slots are up for election.