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Smoke comes out of a poll machine

Posted on: May 28, 2009

Smoke comes out of a poll machine

But poll exec satisfied with demo
By Anna Valmero
First Posted 17:16:00 05/28/2009

Filed Under: Technology (general), Elections

MANILA, Philippines–The demonstration and technical evaluation of poll machines at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) momentarily stopped after a test machine “supposedly caught fire.”

The Special Bids and Awards Committee Technical Working Group was evaluating the precinct count optical scan poll machines of lone qualifying bidder Smartmatic and Total Information Management on Thursday as part of the bid evaluation for the P11.2 billion automation deal.

Representatives of Smartmatic-TIM rushed to the machine when smoke came out.

SBAC chairman Ferdinand Rafanan then sought for clarification from the TWG and the bidder about the smoke coming out of the machine.

After a minute of troubleshooting, a representative from Smartmatic said: “The cable used to connect the battery to PCOS is thinner and I can only assume, we packed the wrong cable. There was overheating from a short circuit, basically because there is a big battery connected to thin cable for power.”

The PCOS apparently shut down when it detected a short circuit to protect itself. It restarted when it was plugged to an electric outlet, Smartmatic-TIM explained.

When representatives from the TWG tried to feed test ballots to the machine, the ballots were not accepted.

“The machines will guard itself from the tampering once its features are tampered, in this case the power source,” said Smartmatic.

Rafanan said he is satisfied with the “unintentional demonstration” and noted “this is very helpful testing.”

Following the explanation of the Smartmatic-TIM, Rafanan said: “The thin cable is connected to the big battery and from short circuit, the battery overheated. The testing for 12 hour operation on a battery and alternative power source will be later,” said Rafanan.


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