Comelec not yet sure about automated 2016 polls

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The Commission on Elections (Comelec) remains uncertain over using precinct count optical scanner (PCOS) machines in the 2016 elections.

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Poll body spokesman James Jimenez said that they are waiting for the Comelec Advisory Council (CAC) to come up with a review of the 2013 elections so they can recommend whether to use or junk PCOS machines for the 2016 polls.

“We did not set deadlines to the CAC to come up with the recommendations, but their last advisory council meeting was held last week, so by the end of the month they may be able to release it . . . that’s what we are waiting for now,” Jimenez said.

He clarified that the poll body has conducted its own study, but noted that “under the law, the CAC has the responsibility to come-up with the review.”

Under Republic Act 9369 or the Poll Automation Law, the CAC will advise the Comelec on the technological aspects of the automated election system (AES).

The committee will be composed of representatives from the Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO), Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) Department of Education (DepEd), academe, IT professionals and non-governmental electoral reform groups.

Meanwhile, Jimenez said that the Comelec is currently evaluating the conditions of the PCOS machines if they are still usable, and admitted that the poll body is not confident if the hardware of the machines will be good enough for 2016 polls.

“We do not have a problem with the software [of the PCOS machines]. . . the only issue here is the hardware. Will the hardware be good enough for 2016? Remember, that it has been used in two elections already, the 2010 and the 2013 polls, so that is now on its 6th year,” he explained.

Jimenez admitted that the PCOC machines might suffer from “wear and tear,” which the poll body “might necessitate the replacements of parts or in some cases, replacement of some entire units.”

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