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Comelec to start printing ballots Feb.7

Posted on: February 2, 2010

Comelec to start printing ballots Feb.7

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 18:12:00 02/01/2010

Filed Under: Politics, Elections

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) announced Monday that the printing of the special paper ballots for the May automated elections will start on February 7, a week later than its original schedule.

Comelec chairman Jose Melo said ballot printing will start at a later date to prevent “security issues” when the final ballots would have to be placed at National Printing Office (NPO) for several days prior to shipment to municipalities on April 25.

If the ballots were printed on January 31, production would be done on April 19 so the Comelec together with Smartmatic-Total Information Management moved the printing to February 7 to make sure that once all 50 million ballots were printed, they are immediately shipped to their designated municipalities, added Comelec spokesman James Jimenez.

“If we pushed through with the original date of printing last Sunday, the ballots would be sitting at the NPO for seven days before they are shipped. That is something we are not comfortable with in the point of view of security,” said Jimenez.

Meanwhile, the new date for the ballot printing would allow the Comelec en banc to refine the certified list of national and local candidates which would be configured for 1,631 different ballot faces for each municipality or city, said Melo.

However, names of candidates or party lists with unresolved appeals filed before the Supreme Court but not issued a temporary restraining order would not be printed in the special paper ballots, said Melo.

Cesar Flores, president of Smartmatic requested Comelec to submit the final form of the certified list of national and local candidates immediately so that printing of ballots can start Feb. 7.

“We cannot afford any further delay on the printing of these 1,631 ballot faces. Ultimately, we have received the list a bit late from Comelec and we cannot afford to adjust the timeline because that would entail additional costs and printing over 1,631 unique ballot faces is a big job,” said Flores.

Smartmatic also bagged the contract for the production of 77,000 ball boxes for the May elections. Flores said during the contract signing Monday that the boxes would be produced in Taiwan and would be shipped to the country between mid-March and April 19.

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