Philippine media on guided tour of VCMs warehouse

Sta. Rosa, Laguna, The Philippines - February 5, 2016 - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) took members of the media to a walk-through of its warehouse in Sta. Rosa, Laguna yesterday where more than 70,000 vote counting machines (VCM) are already housed and currently undergoing testing.

Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said that an additional 26,000 units of the VCM are already in transit from Taiwan and are expected to arrive in the next two weeks. He also said that he was assured by Bureau of Customs Commissioner Bert Lina that the release of the machines would be expedited.

“Processing is now almost automatic as soon as the machines arrive at the port and this is important in ensuring that the VCMs will get to the warehouse in time,” Bautista said.
The members of the press were taken to the main production area where the machines are undergoing hardware acceptance tests (HAT) and accuracy tests.

Smartmatic Project Manager Marlon Garcia explained that the HAT involves subjecting the machine to a series of tests to ensure that the scanners are working properly. The more stringent accuracy tests, on the other hand, are performed on 5% of the total number of machines and involves inserting 1,000 ballots into each of the randomly selected machines to ensure that they comply with the 99.995% accuracy requirement of the law.

“No VCM leaves the warehouse without passing these tests and that is how we ensure that the machines will read the votes accurately on election day,” Garcia said.

The media was also shown the outside of the high-security Memory Configuration Room where Universal Memory Cards for the VCMs are configured based on information generated by the Election Management System (EMS). This data will later be used in the production line where individual VCMs are programmed to get their unique identity.

“This is the step where the VCM gets its own identity which tells it the specific precinct it belongs to and which ballots it could accept,” Garcia said.

Director July Hernan of the poll body’s Administrative Services Department, which is in charge of the warehouse, also briefed the media on the strict security protocols being implemented in the facility.