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Comelec to inspect poll machines in China

Posted on: November 5, 2009

Comelec to inspect poll machines in China

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 17:47:00 11/04/2009

Filed Under: Technology (general), Elections, Eleksyon 2010

MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will send a two-man team to Shanghai, China to inspect the production of poll machines to ensure these will be delivered in time for next year’s polls.

Composed of IT experts, the team will conduct an ocular inspection of the assembly plant making the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines, said Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal, who presides over the steering committee for 2010 poll automation.

The poll body will use 82,200 PCOS machines next year, about half of which will be delivered year-end and the other half in February next year.

Sending an inspection team to China is vital to ensure that Comelec’s technology partner will meet delivery schedules, said Larrazabal.

Smartmatic, which partnered with local firm Total Information Management (TIM), has shifted production of PCOS machines from its Taiwan subsidiary Jarltech International Inc. to Shanghai this month to prevent production delays due to recent typhoons.

Shanghai is less vulnerable to production delays unlike Taiwan, which is more prone to flooding, and has better supply of components used in assembling PCOS machines, according to Comelec.

“The team will evaluate for two to three days the readiness of the production facility, availability of raw materials to build the machines, and the quality of manufactured equipment ultimately to ensure that we will meet the delivery schedules,” said Larrazabal.

“They will issue a report on their visit that will be made public,” he added. “If the team’s assessment is that the Shanghai facility would not be able to meet our delivery schedules, then we will implement our contingency plans.”

Comelec will send another team to Shanghai next month, which can be covered by local media, said Larrazabal.

Ateneo professor Renato Garcia, who is Comelec technical adviser on automation, said the poll machines to be delivered will contain the base configuration of the software for counting and canvassing of votes.

The software Comelec will use in next year’s elections will be installed in the machines after it gets certified by an international certification agency in February next year.

“The installation of the certified automation software will be done after it is certified because we have to configure each machine uniquely to each precinct so that it will not be used in reading ballots or votes from other precincts,” said Larrazabal.

He added Comelec will invite representatives of political parties and watchdogs to oversee the paper ballot printing at the National Printing Office between January and February as an added transparency measure.

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