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Comelec holds mock polls at Senate

Posted on: March 26, 2010

Comelec holds mock polls at Senate

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 07:30:00 03/25/2010

Filed Under: Eleksyon 2010, Elections

MANILA, Philippines—(UPDATE) The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday started an end-to-end mock elections process to simulate the country’s first automated electoral process using precinct count optical scan (PCOS).

“This mock polls (process) is to build confidence on the system and to prove that it works,” said Comelec Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer, who is overseeing the process.

A total of 200 registered voters will join the mock elections, half of whom would vote in clustered precincts for Donsol town and Sorsogon city in Sorsogon province, said Miguel Avila, technical manager and PCOS demonstration expert of Smartmatic-Total Information Management.

Aside from two PCOS machines, Smartmatic-TIM also provided canvassing and consolidation systems (CCS), servers for municipal, city, provincial and national levels that will collate all voters per candidates.

Voting period is from 7a.m. to 12noon, followed by canvassing and consolidation of votes from the local to national levels using public telecommunications networks set to finish by 2 p.m.

To guide voters, accredited citizens’ arm Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) set up voters’ assistance desk to guide voters in finding their precinct and on how to properly fill up ballots, said chairperson Henrietta De Villa.

Before voting, the voters are oriented at the holding area on how to fill up the ballots using special marker pens provided at the precinct, by fully shading the ovals opposite the names of local and national candidates and not over-voting or selecting more candidates than available elective seats, such as shading 13 names for senator instead of 12. A blown-up ballot is also shown to the voters to introduce the new ballots to them.

“Do not over-vote because the machine will invalidate the vote for the elective position. An under-vote would be read but not over-vote. Do not also make spurious marks on the ballots that might compromise the ballot and its security markings,” Anna De Villa Singson, PPCRV voters’ education specialist told voters.

Testing and sealing of the PCOS machines were done 4 p.m. Wednesday, with a manual audit of 20 special paper ballots filled up by actual voters present.

The mock election was requested by the joint congressional oversight committee on automation chaired by Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero and Makati Representative Teodoro “Teddy Boy” Locsin.

Around 10:30 a.m., Escudero together with Comelec Chairman Jose Melo, Commissioners Ferrer, Lucenito Tagle, Election and Barangay Affairs Department director Teopisto Elnas, and Deputy Executive Director for Operations Bartolome Sinocruz, PPCRV’s De Villa cast their ballots.

“I voted in less than four minutes. The automation technology is easy. You just have to be mindful not to over-vote or pick candidates more than what is required for the position,” said De Villa.

Before voting, the officials were oriented on the proper way of voting by fully shading the ovals and not to over-vote. Like other voters joining the mock polls, they were told to bring on Election Day a valid government issued ID to prove their identity in case they have no biometrics and photo information appearing before the Comelec book of voters.

Asked to assess the conduct of the mock polls, Melo said: “All ballots cast were counted. Everything is fine. I hope this would be replicated on Election Day. We were given very fine instructions by PPCRV and the people to whom the instructions were given, everything went fine.”

However, Escudero said it took him longer to fill up the ballots because he checked every name on the ballot. He said voters should know the candidates they would vote for before they go to the polling precincts and the number assigned to those candidates.

“Mas matagal akong nakaboto kasi inisa-isa ko yung pangalan. But on Election Day, logically, voters should know who they would vote for. Now it is also the responsibility of candidates to include their assigned numbers on the campaign ads and let the voters know that,” said Escudero.

After the transmission of results, Escudero said that at 1 p.m., there would be a manual audit of the transmitted results to ascertain that the results of the transmitted and manual audits are the same.

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