THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) has abandoned its plan of using old Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) and new Optical Mark Reader (OMR) counting machines in next year’s polls as it ordered an additional 3,540 new OMR machines for P133.466 million.
The 3,540 units will augment the 93,977 machines earlier leased by the commission with an option to purchase from Smartmatic-TIM Corp. This brings to 97,519 the total number of OMR machines that will be used in 2016.
The Comelec appropriated P10.37 billion for the 93,977 units.
Senior Commissioner Christian Robert Lim on Monday said the Comelec en banc also approved the purchase of 4,000 additional ballot boxes for P12 million to cover up for the shortfall when it ordered the first batch of 23,000 units of PCOS but only 20,800 was delivered.
Lim said they had to order additional counting machines which the commission calls VCM or votes counting machine because of the last minute surge of new voters. He said the number of registered voters has reached 54.5 million.
The official said the commission can no longer use old and new counting machines because of “interoperability” problems.
He explained that the new machines come with a new canvassing and consolidation system (CCS) whose results cannot be read by the old PCOS.
“The new ones we require that it has to have a detection system, it will detect if there are lines, [which was a problem in the old PCOS]. Now we will still face the same problem with a refurbished PCOS because it will not be able to detect (results) if there are lines,” Lim said.
He also pointed out that the old PCOS used a CF card, while the new version uses SD card.
“Considering the shortness of the time and the complexity of the project, we’d rather exercise the repeat order,” Lim said. “Under RA 9184 we can exercise up to 25 percent of the contract for repeat order.”
Funding for the additional new machines will come from the Comelec savings.
WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL