• All systems go for Monday polls


    For the Commission on Elections (Comelec), it is all systems go for the local and national elections on Monday, May 9.

    Comelec Chairman Juan Andres Bautista on Friday said except for minor details, everything is ready from voting information to delivery of ballots and counting machines, among others, to ensure that the electoral process would proceed smoothly.

    “As far as the [Vote Counting] Machines and official ballots are concerned, everything has been deployed 100 percent,” according to Bautista.

    But still ongoing, he said, is the final testing and sealing (FTS) of the VCMs to determine if they read the ballots accurately and if receipts that they are supposed to issue contain the names of candidates actually picked by the voter.

    Also in place, Bautista added, were the 4,500 units of portable broadband global area network (BGAN) satellites to ensure fast and accurate transmission of election results.

    He said 1,600 additional units of BGAN satellites have been shipped out to augment the existing 4,500 so that all areas with weak or no signal would be covered by satellite transmission.

    An earlier site survey conducted by the Comelec and technology provider Smartmatic Corp. showed there were at least 6,000 polling areas with weak or no signals.

    For 30,000 other areas, the Comelec will use a specialized subscriber identity module or SIM cards for transmission.

    “Transmission of election results has to be accurate and quick to avoid unnecessary suspicion and apprehension on the integrity and credibility of the elections,” Bautista said.

    “In 2010, the transmission rate was 90 percent but went down to 76 percent in 2013, which slowed down the proclamation of winning candidates. But we are doing our best to achieve a 90 percent transmission rate,” the Comelec chief added.

    Elections results are transmitted to three places–the intermediate servicer, which is the municipality or city board of canvasser; the central server of the Comelec; and the transparency server under the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) and the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas (KBP).

    Bautista disclosed that an upgraded and a more secure Comelec website is now open to the public and which voters could use to look for their precincts.

    The poll body chief admitted though that the site’s precinct finder feature is not user-friendly because of an added layer of security measures.

    “It’s not the same anymore. Before, you just enter your name and birthday and you would know right away the location of your precinct. But now you have to enter also the name of your barangay [village],” he said.

    Aside from the Comelec website, Bautista added, a computerized voters list will also be posted on Comelec offices in various municipalities and cities across the country on the day of the elections where voters can check their precinct numbers.

    “So far so good. Glitches can’t be avoided but so far we see no problem,” he said.


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