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Poll machines to be sealed 3 days before polls

Posted on: March 2, 2010

Poll machines to be sealed 3 days before polls

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 21:09:00 03/01/2010

Filed Under: Elections, Eleksyon 2010

MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) would test and seal the poll machines three days before April 10 for overseas absentee voting and three days before May 10 for the domestic automated polls.

In Resolution 8785, local board of election inspectors (BEIs) and special BEIs (SBEIs) abroad are mandated to hold test the machine’s accuracy in counting votes from ten sample ballots and printing the electronically-generated Election Returns (ERs), said spokesman James Jimenez.

Each of the ten sample ballots must be filled up—meaning the ovals opposite the names of candidates are fully shaded—by voters present during the testing and fed to the machine by the voter, after being verified by the BEI or SBEI, the resolution said.

The BEI and SBEI would be given personal security pins that would all be encoded to their designated poll machine to operate its functions. The machine would not operate if one security pin is missing or is not entered into poll the machine.

After the printing of the ERs, a manual audit would be conducted to reconcile the results from the printed ER and the manual tally by the BEI.

If the results of both ERs are the same, the certification portion of both ERs shall be signed by the BEI/SBEI and the representatives of the political parties, candidates or citizens’ arms present. But if the results of both ERs are different, the BEI or SBEI shall review and appreciate the ballots to determine the cause of the discrepancy. If after the review, there are still different results, the BEI should call the assigned technical support and submit a report to the Comelec through the Field Operations Group of the Project Management Office.

After the testing, the special paper ballots, poll machines and its power card and security pins, and other related paraphernalia would be sealed inside the poll machine’s box. It would be opened for use on Election Day.

On Thursday, Comelec Chairman Jose Melo said that 60,000 poll machines already passed the stress and laboratory tests at its warehouse in Laguna. Around 8,000 more units in the facility are being subjected to laboratory testing, while about 13,000 machines are set to arrive in the country February 26.

The poll chief added that six million ballots were already printed at the National Printing Office (NPO) for use in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and the provinces of Batanes, Palawan, Bohol and Masbate, among others.

Poll automation law co-author and co-chairman of the joint congressional oversight committee on automation Makati Representative Teddy Boy Locsin gave Comelec “two-thumbs up” for its vigilance to prepare for the automated polls and several layers of safeguards it placed both for the ballot printing and poll machine testing.

He recanted his earlier proposal to dispose and burn the 1.7 million ballots printed for ARMM after noting that the additional 2-dimensional NPO bar code is “not critical” because of the five security features of the ballots, on top of its secured vacuum packaging for transport to its designated clustered precinct.

On Monday, Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) officially turned over to Comelec’s warehouse and testing facility in Laguna the last batch of 13,500 machines that arrived Saturday—beating the February 28 delivery deadline stipulated in the P7.1 billion contract.

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