GMA News.TV: More than half of voting machines pass tests, Comelec says


More than half of voting machines to be used for the Philippines' first automated polls passed the series of tests conducted by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and equipment supplier Smartmatic-TIM.

About 60,000 of the 82,200 Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines ''are working," Comelec Chairman Jose Melo told reporters on Thursday.

He made this remark during the visit of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Automated Elections (JCOC-AE) to the National Printing Office (NPO) in Quezon City and the Smartmatic warehouse in Cabuyao, Laguna on Thursday.

About 68,620 of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines are already in the warehouse.

Of these, about 60,000 have passed the operational and security testing.

Smartmatic warehouse manager Louie Campos said that said that machines will be configured for the May polls starting Thursday.

The 1,000 workers in the warehouse will work in two shifts, one from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and another from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m, he said.

During these shifts, the workers will be separated into production lines.

Workers are expected to feed the machines with test ballots to see whether these will be recognized. They will also be tested whether poll machines will be able to print election returns.

In the meantime, records posted at the NPO showed that a total of 6,037,038 of the more than 50 million ballots that would be used in the May 2010 elections have been printed by the Comelec.

Ballots for far-flung areas will be printed earlier to allow more time for these to be delivered to their locations. Those meant for Metro Manila will be printed last because these can be delivered easily.

After the ballots are printed, they will be packed by precinct and will be vacuum-sealed.
Newly-printed ballots are then placed in plastic boxes that will be tied with colored strings based on their delivery locations.

The ballots will be kept at the NPO until they have to be shipped by April 25.

JCOC-AE co-chair Makati City Rep. Teodoro Locsin Jr. said he was satisfied with the inspection.

"Very satisfactory, given the amount of security. The constant wrapping with seals, with plastic, vacumized. I think it will make more sense to buy the votes than it is to corrupt the electoral process," he told reporters after the inspection.

"I'm astounded at the amount of security that has been included in this automation election. This is really incredible. As I said if you really want to cheat the election forget trying to corrupt the electoral process," he added. -RJAB Jr., GMANews.TV