Final testing of VCMs set

Ding Cervantes - The Philippine Star

CLARK FREEPORT, Pampanga, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said yesterday the final testing and sealing (FTS) of vote counting machines (VCM) in all 92,509 clustered precincts will be held nationwide anytime from May 2 to 6. ?

“All political parties will be getting a formal Comelec notification by April 29  for them or their representatives to witness the FTS,” Comelec public relations officer Cristalyn Magsino said in a forum of the Capampangans in Media Inc. here.

She said boards of election inspectors (BEI) in the precincts will choose 10 volunteers to cast their sample ballots in VCMs for the FTS.

“I am not sure whether the ballots to be used will list actual candidates or not, but the FTS will be open to the public,” she said.

Miguel Eugenio Avila, coordinator of Smartmatic which provided the VCMs, said that after the machines have been tested, they would be “re-zeroed” before being sealed anew.

“The next time the VCMs will be opened will be at the precincts on Election Day itself,” he said.

Magsino said the VCMs have been delivered to the provinces in time for the May 2 to 6 FTS.

Avila said the VCMs to be used in the May 9 polls are superior to the PCOS machines used in 2013. ?“The VCM has faster 256-bit processor, as against only 128 bits of the PCOS machine. Its SD card is also more robust so that data corruption is less likely,” he said. ?He also said that the VCM has a more powerful battery that can last up to 14 hours. “Even with power failure, the VCM will go on working,” he noted.

Magsino said more registered voters are expected to cast their votes on May 9 arising from better accommodations for senior citizens and persons with disability.

She noted that a total of 54,363,844 are registered to vote nationwide, on top of  1,376,067 overseas Filipinos and 67,511 detainees who are also  registered.

“We have a total of 396,133 established precincts which are clustered into 92,509 precincts which will receive a VCM each,” Magsino added.

Comelec said it will also rely not only on the leading telecommunications firms, but also on two other means to transmit from VCMs the results of the May 9 elections from the precincts to municipal, provincial and central destinations.

Magsino said that in areas lacking signal from the leading telecom firms, “broadband global network and portable satellite will be used.” ?She said this will be done by Smartmatic, which has provided over 92,000 VCMs to be used in the May 9 polls.  

“The areas without signal from the leading telecom firms would be covered by the Vigan broadband global area network or the Isavi portable satellite,” she added.

The Comelec is also set to do end-to-end transmission tests today to get a preview of what might happen on election day.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said that the transmission tests will be done in 10 voting centers.

In Metro Manila, the tests will be done in Taguig City, Pateros, Quezon City (1st district), and Manila (5th district), while Digos City and Bansalan in Davao del Sur, Iriga City and Buhi in Camarines Sur, and Alburguergue and Cortes in Bohol will also hold transmission tests.

The election results will be transmitted to the Comelec warehouse in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

Jimenez added that Comelec will be using SIM cards and BGAN satellite devices in doing the transmission.

Official ballots ready

 Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said yesterday that the official ballots for some 54.3 million registered voters in the coming May 9 polls are ready for deployment starting April 25.

In an interview, Bautista noted the verification of the printed 56.7 million ballots at the National Printing Office was completed yesterday, or three days ahead of schedule.   

He added because of this, the Comelec could meet its target of deploying the official ballots beginning April 25. The farthest provinces will receive their ballots first.

“With the completion of the ballot verification procedure, the commission is now ready to dispatch the ballots to over 92,000 precincts nationwide,” he said. 

Of the 56.7 million ballots printed, 54.3 million are official. The rest will be used for demonstration and training. 

Verification is the process of manually feeding the ballots to the VCMs to determine if they contain the proper security features and specifications set by the poll body.  – With Sheila Crisostomo, Art Dumlao?




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