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Comelec trims clustered precincts for 2010 polls

Posted on: November 18, 2009

Comelec trims clustered precincts for 2010 polls

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 16:03:00 11/18/2009

Filed Under: Eleksyon 2010, Elections, Politics, Inquirer Politics

MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will reduce the number of clustered precincts for next year’s automated polls from 80,000 to around 73,000, an official said Wednesday.

The reduction came after the poll body found out that that some of the 80,000 clustered precincts have 500 or 600 registered voters only—way below the maximum 1,000 voters that the poll machine can process during May 10 elections, said Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal.

“Based on our initial survey, some of the clustered precincts have only 500 or 600 voters from five precincts. This means we would not be maximizing the use of the machines that can process up to 1,000 voters,” he said.

“To remedy this, we would be clustering up to seven precincts with a maximum of 1,000 voters,” said Larrazabal.

Initially, Comelec planned to group its 342,075 established precincts nationwide to 80,000 clustered precincts, each with five precincts to contain 1,000 voters. The computation was made on the assumption all established precincts have a maximum of 200 registered voters each, said Larrazabal.

But some precincts have 50 or 100 registered voters only, prompting the Comelec to decide to group seven established precincts into a clustered precinct with up to 1,000 voters “to maximize the use of precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines,” said Larrazabal.

Each clustered precinct will have one PCOS unit that will automate the voting, counting, electronic transmission and consolidation of votes from 1,000 registered voters, added the official.

This resulted to about 73,000 clustered precincts nationwide based on approved registered voters in the Election Regulatory Board (ERB) hearing in July.

The reduction in the number of clustered precincts would also mean there would be “less number of teachers or board of election inspectors to man the polling stations” and “more standby PCOS units to deploy for contingency measures,” said Larrazabal.

With less number of clustered precincts, only around 450,000 teachers will be required to form the 73,000 BEI teams composed of six persons for each clustered precinct, added the official.

Under the law, public school teachers should serve as the BEI chairman on Election Day, with the other members preferably teachers or registered voters of good standing in the community, said Larazabal.

In addition to the three-man BEI team composed of the chairman, poll clerk and third member, Comelec will add up to three support staff who will handle the book of voters for the additional precincts in the cluster. If a precinct has five to seven established precincts, there would be one BEI team and three additional support staff, said Larrazabal.

The reduction in the number of clustered precincts would also increase the number of standby PCOS to 8,000, up from the initial 2,200 standby units when the number of clustered precincts total at 80,000, said Larrazabal.

More standby units would put Comelec in a better position to deploy contingency measures to prevent failure of elections in a place should a machine malfunction or encounter an error during Election Day, added Larrazabal.

Comelec’s automation partner, Smartmatic-Total Information Management will deliver the first batch of around 42,000 PCOS machines in December to be followed by another 40,000 on January. By February, the machines will be installed with the automation software currently being certified by international agency Systest Labs, said Comelec spokesman James Jimenez.

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