Consulate in New York records third vote counting machine failure

Consulate in New York records third vote counting machine failure
The Philippine Consulate General in New York conducts ballot feeding at the Kalayaan Hall.

MANILA, Philippines — One of the vote-counting machines (VCMs) used in Monday's ballot feeding had malfunctioned, the Consulate General of the Philippines in New York disclosed Monday morning. 

The agency made the disclosure in an advisory posted to its social media channels. 

"Unfortunately, despite the online troubleshooting by the Commission on Elections and Consulate personnel, the technical issue involving said VCM could not be resolved," the consulate general said. 

The latest malfunction brings the number of VCMs assigned to the Consulate that can no longer be used to three.

The consulate said it would continue ballot feeding using its last remaining functioning VCM. This comes just days after the consulate had already requested two more vote-counting machines. To recall, one machine reportedly encountered a paper jam, while the other failed a routine scan. 

The consulate general added that the Comelec has already been informed of this development and has been requested to replace the defective units as soon as possible so that ballot feeding can proceed more efficiently.

"We at the Philippine Consulate General in New York have an obligation to our people to ensure that the forthcoming elections will be conducted in a transparent manner," it also said in response to a commenter asking if the machines were "rigged."

"Technical issues such as those that we have encountered could unfortunately not be avoided. But as we have mentioned we will continue with the ballot feeding process using the remains VCM until we get replacement units."

Why does this matter?

The Commission on Elections, whose commissioner once threatened to call the military to arrest critics, has stood by its preparations for clean and transparent elections.

"To remove any doubt sa commission, openness [...], we have to be very transparent, but at the same time also, we have to talk to the people and to the stakeholders more frequently," Comelec commissioner and election lawyer George Garcia said at a webinar last week. 

Elaiza Sabile-David, director of the Comelec Education and Information Department admitted at the same webinar that the Comelec’s role is to address situations as soon as breaches are reported or disinformation begins to build up.

"Pag meron ganyan naririnig na problema or mali na balita na kumakalat na, Comelec talaga po dapat should address po yung ganyan, sabihin po yung totoo doon sa nangyayari para hindi magtagal," she said.

Lawyer Ona Caritos, Executive Director of the Legal Network For Truthful Elections or LENTE said that while confidence is higher with automated elections, they aren't necessarily foolproof. 

"We have a level of confidence in [automated] machines [but] this can still drop when technical glitches happen," she said in mixed Filipino and English. "The problems or glitches that we encounter are outside of the machines."

Franco Luna with a report from Kaycee Valmonte 

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As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: May 3, 2022 - 9:00am

A thread on reports about the Philippines' absentee and overseas voting for the May 2022 elections.

Main Photo:

Commission on Elections Chairman Saidamen Pangarungan leads the ceremonial sealing and send-off of trailer trucks which will transport the vote counting machines or VCMs and other election paraphernalia from the Comelec warehouse in Sta. Rosa, Laguna to various regional hubs on Saturday midnight, April 2, 2022 in preparation for the coming May 9 polls.

The STAR/Miguel de Guzman

May 3, 2022 - 9:00am

Another vote counting machine used in ballot feeding for overseas voting had malfunctioned, the Philippine Consulate General in New York says.

This is the third VCM assigned to the consulate that could no longer be used after malfunctioning.

"Just the same, the Consulate will continue ballot feeding using its last remaining functioning VCM," the consulate says.

April 12, 2022 - 10:21am

Overseas Filipinos in Italy can start claiming their mailing packets or accomplish their ballots and return it on the same day, the Philippine Embassy in Rome says.

"These voters may pick up their mailing packets containing their ballots from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, 11 April 2022 to 17 April 2022," the embassy says in an advisory.

Meanwhile, mailing packets that are not picked up after April 17 will be sent through postal service.

April 11, 2022 - 10:20pm

Vice presidential candidate Sara Duterte calls alleged social media reports of pre-shaded ballots with her name on them in Singapore and Dubai "grossly disconcerting."

"As a politician, my experience has taught me that Filipinos do not respect those who cheat and engage in election fraud," says Davao City Mayor Duterte, who is President Rodrigo Duterte's only daughter.

"I never have and will never condone cheating. I won my past elections because the people voted for me," she adds in a statement.

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