Comelec mulls receipts for absentee voting

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is looking to allow the printing of the voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) tape receipts for overseas absentee voting (OAV).

While the poll body would not allow the printing of receipts in the vote counting machines (VCMs), Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said they would make an exception on OAV voting.

“Why? Because they have 30 days to vote and there are favor voters in OAV. So there is a lot of time for that,” he said.

Earlier, the Comelec had rejected calls to print the VVPAT tape receipts, citing “time and motion studies” that showed it will take 13 seconds to print a tape receipt, or equivalent to 2.1 hours if there are 600 voters in a polling precinct.

This is on top of the five hours the 600 voters are expected to require to review the tape receipts, bringing the total to 7.1 hours.

The other reason why the Comelec does not allow printing of tape receipts is because they could be used for vote buying and vote selling.

“The problem is our voting situation, the fact that we are over 18,000 positions because it is synchronized national and local polls. We will have to make anywhere from 25 to 35 marks per voter. And we have to do these all in one day. That is what makes it difficult,” he added.

Comelec is currently studying if it should activate the VVPAT screen through which voters could see the votes that they cast before they are actually accepted by the VCM.

Bautista said that having the VVPAT screen on would also eat more voting time because voters will likely go through each and every oval that they shaded on the ballots.

“We are studying the onscreen verification, probably as a substitute (to tape receipts). We are looking at time and motion, but hopefully, we will come up with a decision soon,” he said. 

VCM project awarded

Meanwhile, the Comelec has awarded the VCM deployment project to the joint venture of 2GO Express and 2GO Logistics Philippines, Inc.

Comelec issued Resolution 10060, approving the recommendation of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) to declare the joint venture “as the bidder with the lowest calculated and responsive bid” for the deployment of the VCMs and allied services in 11 of the 17 regions of the country.

The resolution showed the contract price for Lot 1 was P175,194,946.82.  This covers Regions 1, 2 and 3, and the Cordillera Administrative Region.

The contract price for Lot 2 or National Capital Region, and Regions 4A, 4B and 5 is P180,871,756.09 while for Lot 3, covering Regions 6, 7, and 8,  the price is P220,895,642.53. 

These bring the total to P952,524,524.41, indicating that Comelec had earned a savings of P573,602,671.03. The total approved budget for the projects is P1.526,127,195.44.

The Comelec has ordered the issuance of the Notice of Award to the 2GO joint venture.

As a policy, the Comelec prioritizes the deployment of VCMs, official ballots and other election paraphernalia to far places. First in line is the OAV, followed by the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The last to be delivered are the election materials for use in Metro Manila.

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