Philippines polling day
Poll workers carry ballot paraphernalia prior to the start of the mid-term elections at a polling precinct in Manila on May 13, 2019.
AFP/Ted Aljibe

4th automated polls: 220% more VCMs malfunctioning than in 2016

Luisa Morales (Philstar.com) - May 13, 2019 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines (Update 2, 4:28 p.m.) — There were already around 400 to 600 cases of malfunctioning vote counting machines as of early afternoon of midterm election day in the Philippines, the Commission on Elections said Monday.

These make at least a 220% increase from the last elections in 2016 when 125 counting machines encountered problems.

Despite the staggering rate, however, Commission on Elections James Jimenez downplayed the figure. He said that with around 85,000 VCMs in use nationwide, the number is not outside of the expected number.

"It is perhaps still small, out of 85,000. It still seems to be within the range," Jimenz said in mixed Filipino and English at a press conference in Pasay City.

"The reason it's so jarring is that we had fewer incidents in 2016," he said.

Jimenez speculated that the machines were brand new in 2016 and therefore less likely to have defects. But whether or not the age of the machines actually caused the malfunctions is not yet known.

"I cannot say for a fact that that is a factor, but again that is a fact. They were brand new at the time," Jimenez said.

"We will know when we analyze all of the different failures that we're seeing," he added.

Gregorio Larrazabal, a former Comelec commissioner, was disappointed over the mounting reports of defective counting machines and memory cards as well as ballots being read incorrectly.

"These are things that should not happen anymore now. This is the 4th automated elections!" Larrazabal posted on Twitter.

Tagging the poll body's official account, he added: "Now in Makati City, voting stopped because they ran out of felt-tip markers.. How can the Electoral Board run out of felt-tip markers? This is supposed to be a non-issue."

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