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SAYS ADVISORY COUNCIL DRE, OMR systems for 2010 elections

Posted on: March 6, 2009

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By Lawrence Casiraya, Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 19:26:00 12/08/2008

Filed Under: Government, Elections, Technology (general)

MAKATI CITY, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) would likely use multiple technologies if it finally automates the elections in 2010.

The Comelec Advisory Council, spearheaded by Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) secretary Ray Anthony Roxas-Chua III, has finally issued the group’s official recommendations before the Comelec.

The council has recommended that Comelec use direct recording electronic (DRE) and optical scan technologies in the 2010 national and local elections.

In its resolution dated November 29, the council recommended the following: DRE or precinct count optical scan (PCOS) technology for all areas, subject to the election automation budget of the Comelec; central count optical scan (CCOS) technology for all other areas not covered by DRE or PCOS technology; and the public telecommunications networks for the transmission of results.

DRE allows a voter to cast a vote directly on a machine by the use of a touch-screen, touchpad, keypad or other device and the machine records the individual votes and calculates the total electronically.

PCOS and CCOS technologies utilize an optical scanner, into which paper ballots marked by hand by the voter are inserted to be counted. PCOS places a scanner at every precinct, while CCOS places a scanner in every voting center or cluster of precincts.

The Comelec advisory council was created through Republic Act 9369, which provides for the creation of an inter-agency advisory body to evaluate and recommend the “most appropriate, secure, applicable and cost-effective” automation technology.

In a separate interview, Comelec Spokesperspon James Jimenez said the Comelec en banc group would study the recommendations forwarded by the Comelec Advisory Council.

Of the recommended technologies, Jimenez said the DRE has received some opposition since the automated election system was perceived to be vulnerable to attacks.

“For the Comelec, it would be a balance of interests regarding the election technology to be deployed in 2010,” said Jimenez.

The key challenge to the implementation of the election machines would be the “per precinct cost of each machine to be deployed,” Jimenez said.

Cost was a “big factor” considered by the Advisory Council in making their recommendations due to the total number of precincts to be supplied with machines during the elections, the Comelec spokesperson added.

The en banc group hopes to reach a decision immediately so the Comelec can start procurement of the machines as early as January 2009, Jimenez said.

The Comelec has said that it requires $21 billion budget to implement the automation of polls.

Jimenez said the agency is optimistic the Senate and the Department of Budget and Management will support the proposed budget.

“Automated polls would work for the best interest of everyone and we are confident no one will stand in its implementation,” said Jimenez.

Meanwhile, Senator Richard Gordon said during his visit at the Election Technologies Conference late in November that he does not favor optical scans due to its limitations.

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