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More poll machines to arrive—IT firm

Posted on: January 1, 2010

More poll machines to arrive—IT firm

By Anna Valmero
First Posted 13:51:00 12/31/2009

Filed Under: Eleksyon 2010, Politics, Elections

MANILA, Philippines – More poll machines to be used in the presidential elections will continue to arrive every week in the country from January to February, an official from the company that would provide the equipment said, after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) received the first batch of 4,000 units.

A total of 7,200 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines were shipped to the country this month, including 3,200 units which arrived at the Bureau of Customs Tuesday, Gene Gregorio, spokesman for Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM), told Thursday.

Gregorio added that another 30,000 poll machines have been assembled at Qisdi Shozou in Shanghai, China since production started on December 1.

Smartmatic is the provider of the PCOS for the 2010 elections.

The four assembly lines at Qisdi ramp up 3,000 machines over a 12-hour shift, with 250 personnel ensuring the quality of the components before putting these together.

“There are 7,200 poll machines already shipped in the country from the Qisdi facility in China. Starting January, there would be weekly shipments of the machines. On January 3, we expect 9,600 machines to arrive followed by 10,000 more units on January 10. Thereafter, there would be weekly deliveries of 9,000 machines,” Gregorio told said.

Earlier this month, Comelec announced that due to freight services having full shipping capacity from high-volume of deliveries for the holidays, there would be a delay in delivery of the first batch of assembled machines.

Comelec and Smartmatic-TIM have agreed to spread out the deliveries weekly in batches of 9,000 to 10,000 units, from the initial plan to ship the total 82,200 poll machines in two batches only, said Comelec executive director Jose Tolentino, who heads the poll automation team.

“For the part of Comelec, it is more favorable to receive the machines in smaller batches as long as we keep the deadline of the delivery on February. The move to spread out the shipments reflects the adjustments in our working schedule due to events arising before the implementation of the automation deal,” said Tolentino in another interview.

Ray Anthony Roxas-Chua III, chairman of the Comelec Advisory Council and the Commission on Information and Communications Technology
, said the production and shipment of the poll machines were “going smoothly” despite delays arising from the month-long bidding and awarding of the project as well as the case for temporary restraining order filed before the Supreme Court that delayed automation preparations for two months.

Despite the delays, Gregorio said the total 82,200 machines would arrive in the country on February 22, a week earlier than the deadline set by the parties.

Earlier this month, 120 prototype PCOS units – which are excluded from the 82,200 machines for shipment – were delivered to Comelec for the nationwide training of the its personnel, Gregorio added.

Upon arrival in the country, the poll machines that still contain the base configuration of the automation software, will undergo several tests in the laboratory, on field and in mock elections before being accepted by Comelec. The automation software that contains the codes or human-readable instructions for operating the machines had to undergo certification, customization and open review before it could be loaded to the machines, according to the poll automation law.

Presently, international software certification agency Systest Labs has been receiving “parts of the automation software” from Smartmatic-TIM for analysis and certification, said Roxas-Chua III.

Gregorio added that Smartmatic-TIM has completed 85 percent of the nationwide site survey for network technologies to be used to send election results from polling precincts to Comelec servers
via public telcos.

The site survey will be completed in January, alongside the start of recruitment of 50,000 field technical staff that will be deployed during the May 2010 elections to maintain the poll machines, he said.


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