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Power failure will not stop polls — Comelec

Posted on: September 18, 2009

Power failure will not stop polls — Comelec

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 18:54:00 09/17/2009

Filed Under: Technology (general), Elections

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MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) assured that looming power failures next year as reported by the Energy department will not derail election automation.

Comelec chairman Jose Melo is confident that the poll body can implement nationwide automated polls through the use of generators and standby batteries to power precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines and automated canvassing units continuously for 12 hours.

Melo stressed it is the government’s job to solve the reported power outages.

“The government should resolve the forecasted power failure in 2010, not Comelec. Given the fact that we will use power for the poll and canvassing machines, we have taken into account the provision of batteries to power the machines on Election Day so that power failure will not affect the conduct of automation,” he said.

“It’s unfair to ask Comelec to do everything, that’s for the government to think about,” he noted.

Ferdinand Rafanan, Comelec legal department director and chairman of special bids and awards committee that awarded the automation contract, said the provision of standby power units is covered in the P7.2 billion bid offered by Smartmatic-Total Information Management.

In a separate interview, Comelec Advisory Council member and consultant Renato Garcia also allayed fears that the automated pollls are doomed to fail for lack of power in certain areas and denied that teachers will fall back to manually counting votes using candlelight.

“Comelec and Smartmatic-TIM have agreed via the contract that there will be provisions for backup power such as batteries, generators and additional power sources for every polling precinct up to all canvassing centers from the municipal up to the national level so that the elections will push through without interruption,” Garcia said.

Smartmatic-TIM spokesman Gene Gregorio said both parties have mapped out a contingency plan and have drafted solutions for any eventuality that can delay automation such as power failure or transmission issues.

“Under the contract, Smartmatic-TIM will provide batteries and additonal power sources that can supply energy to the PCOS machines, canvassing units and servers beyond the 11 voting hours and the canvassing tha follows,” Gregorio said.

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