The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is set to investigate 300 polling precincts to determine the cause of digital lines that appeared in ballot images of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines during previous elections.
Comelec Chairperson Sixto Brillantes Jr. on Friday said the poll body hopes to determine the cause of the digital lines and find ways so that it will not be repeated in the 2016 polls.
“Our people are telling us this is a good number to determine the actual cause of the digital lines and to prevent it [from happening]in 2016,” Brillantes added.
The digital lines can only be seen in ballot images that are stored in the PCOS machines. Some of these lines passed through ovals marked by voters. These lines could either result in additional votes for particular candidates or nullify votes for some candidates in cases of over-voting.
Brillantes said among those who were invited to conduct the investigation are staunch critics of the PCOS machines such Margarita “Tingting” Cojuangco, an aunt of President Benigno Aquino 3rd; and Melchor Magdamo, who once worked at the Comelec.
The Automated Election System (AES) Watch claimed that there was electronic vote-shaving and vote-padding during the 2013 polls through the use of “digital lines” that appeared in the PCOS machines.
It also accused the poll body of trying to hide the issue from the public.
Magdamo said Sen. Aquilino Pimentel 3rd and evangelist Eddie Villanueva were among the victims of the “digital lines.”
But Brillantes said the poll body reported the supposed problem to the Department of Science and Technology.
The Comelec chief maintained that the digital lines did not adversely affect the 2013 mid-term polls.
“We have already seen in the election protest cases that the presence of digital lines did not adversely affect the results of the voting,” he explained.
Brillantes said they expect to have the result of their investigation before the year ends.
“It is important to finish this as soon as possible since we will be refurbishing the PCOS machines already,” he added.