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Presidential, VP bets urged to visit poll machine warehouse

Posted on: March 3, 2010

Presidential, VP bets urged to visit poll machine warehouse

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 21:05:00 03/02/2010

Filed Under: Eleksyon 2010, Elections

MANILA, Philippines–The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday invited the presidential and vice presidential candidates to visit the ballot printing and poll machine testing facilities of the poll agency on March 11.

Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said the site visit at the National Printing Office (NPO) and the Laguna warehouse of Comelec and Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) would keep the candidates abreast of the preparations for the country’s first-ever automated polls on May 10.

The poll official said Comelec has mailed the invites to the candidates and are awaiting their response.

For the site visit at NPO, the candidates would be able to see the different stages of ballot preparations, from the printing of candidate names and cutting of ballots, configuration of security markings like the barcode, sealing of the ballots per clustered precinct using vacuum technology and the final packaging of the ballots in hard plastic boxes, Larrazabal told INQUIRER.net.

Candidates would also be able to see the storage and testing facility of the 82,200 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines in Laguna.

PCOS is a technology that scans and captures images of the ballots fed into its scanner. For May, the machines are configured to electronically count, generate and transmit the Election Returns from voting centers to Comelec servers at close of polls.

The national bets would see the actual machines being subjected to stress, accuracy and security testing and the configuration or installation of the certified automation software into machines, which passed all laboratory tests.

On Monday, the remaining 13,500 machines were delivered from the Bureau of Customs to the Laguna warehouse for testing. Earlier, 68,000 had been turned over to the poll body. Of this, around 60,000 poll machines have passed the laboratory tests and are being configured to contain all information relevant to its designated clustered precinct.

“The poll body would welcome questions from the candidates and this way, to update them on the preparations. This is also a way for confidence building and to allay fears of some candidates regarding automated cheating in the new system,” said Larrazabal.

In a presidential forum last month, five presidential bets have expressed concerns over the automated poll system, including former defense chief Gilbert Teodoro, Senators Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III and Jamby Madrigal, environmentalist Nicanor Perlas, and Jesus is Lord leader Eddie Villanueva.

Only Senator Richard Gordon, who co-authored Republic Act 9369 or the poll automation law, is optimistic about the automated polls.

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