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Comelec continues tests on poll machine

Posted on: May 29, 2009

Comelec continues tests on poll machine

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 17:43:00 05/29/2009

Filed Under: Technology (general), Elections

MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) continued its technical evaluation on the poll machines of lone qualifying bidder Smartmatic-Total Information Management Friday.

Officials said the bidder has so far passed 24 out of 26 technical criteria, including the critical accuracy rating of 99.9995 percent required in reading ballot marks, Special Bids and Awards Committee (SBAC) chairman Ferdinand Rafanan said.

This was despite snags encountered by the bidder Thursday when one of its machines experienced a short-circuit during a demonstration.

“The poll machines of Smartmatic-TIM (Total Information Management) passed the accuracy having read 100 percent of all 20,000 ballot shade marks in the 625 ballots with 32 vote marks each. It passed our minimum requirement of 99.9995 percent accuracy; it did not miss one mark,” the poll executive said.

“Except two remaining technical criteria, all the 24 technical criteria for poll machine operation have been successfully hurdled by the PCOS machines tested,” he added.

The poll machines, dubbed precinct count optical scans (PCOS), use special paper ballots marked by voters. These ballots are scanned and counted by these machines, as the ballots are fed into the units. The machine also consolidates all votes.

The bidder’s machine has to go through two remaining tests. It must be able to operate for 12 hours continuously using a battery or related power sources. It must also be able to store front and back images of 1,000 test ballots as additional paper trail or second copy of the paper ballots.

Makati representative and co-chairman of the joint congressional oversight committee Teodoro Locsin joined the technical evaluation on Friday, observing the conduct of the final stages of the bidding process.

“The crucial points of automated elections are: solidity of machine, new ballot boxes to fit the system and capability of bidder to manufacturer all 80,000 machines. I was told the machines smoked yesterday due to short circuit but was able to function. Turns out the smoking helped in the testing also and we need machines that are intelligent. As for manufacturing the machines, Smartmatic said they are confident they can manufacture the machines in five months, we’ll see but so far I am satisfied,” said Locsin.

The accuracy testing was conducted again on Friday to test the accuracy of the machines.

To bag the P11.2 billion poll automation contract, the Smartmatic consortium must pass both technical evaluation and post qualification or verification of its eligibility documents submitted along with its bid proposal, said Rafanan.

The Comelec hopes to award the contract by June.

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