• Comelec starts testing counting machines

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    Vital test Workers test the accuracy of the vote counting machines delivered by Smartmatic. Photo by Russell Palma

    Vital test Workers test the accuracy of the vote counting machines delivered by Smartmatic. Photo by Russell Palma

    SANTA ROSA CITY, Laguna: The vote counting machines (VCMs) supplied by Smartmatic are now being tested by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) at a heavily-guarded storage facility in Laguna province, south of Manila.

    So far, 90,000 counting machines have been delivered by Smartmatic.

    “I was informed by Smartmatic that there are already 90,000 machines that are already in the country, and 6,000 are in transit from Taiwan to the Philippines. The total number of delivered VCMs in the warehouse is 71,456 of which 64,382 units have undergone HAT, or hardware assessment test,” Comelec Chairman Juan Andres Bautista said during a walk-through with members of the media at the Comelec storage facility here.

    The commission ordered 97,519 VCMs from the election technology provider.

    Smartmatic Corp. project director Mario Garcia said each machine undergoes a series of repeated tests to achieve the required 99.99 percent accuracy.

    Defective machines, Garcia added, were “quarantined for repair.” If these machines can no longer be repaired, they will be replaced.

    So far, he said, 250 machines have been found to be defective.

    Director Thaddeus Hernan, Comelec administration service chief, said there are more than a thousand workers testing the machines.

    More trained personnel will be deployed as the Comelec steps up its accuracy test of the VCMs to ensure that they meet requirements on election day.

    The poll body will start dispatching the VCMs to the provinces next month, beginning with the farthest areas in the country.

    The Comelec is renting the five-hectare Laguna facility for P68 million a year.

    Aside from the counting machines, it also stores external batteries, cables, laser printer, toner, modems, thermal paper, laptops and the corresponding compatible ballot boxes inside the facility.

    The 93,977 VCMs are being leased, with option to purchase, by Comelec from Smartmatic for P10 billion.

    The Comelec maintains another warehouse in nearby Cabuyao town, also in Laguna, which houses the 82,000 units of the old PCOS or precinct count optical scan machines.

    The PCOS machines were used in the 2010 and 2013 elections. They were leased from Smartmatic in 2009 for P7 billion.

    In 2010, the Comelec exercised its option to purchase the PCOS at an additional cost of P2 billion.

    The commission pays P800,000 a month or P9.6 billion a year in rentals for the warehouse where the PCOS are being stored.

    Since 2009, the Comelec has spent P57.6 billion for rental fees, bringing to P66.9 billion the total amount it spent for the PCOS machines.

    The poll body earlier planned a mix use of PCOS and VCMs for the May 2016 elections but the plan was abandoned in November 2015 because of incompatibility problems.

    Senior Commissioner Christian Robert Lim explained that the VMCs are equipped with a new canvassing and consolidation system (CCS) not compatible with the PCOS machines.

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    2 Comments

    1. ernie del rosario on

      Firstly to WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL, REPORTER, pls be very careful with your reporting and avoid blatant errors in your reports. For example in this report I found the following gross errors: 1) “required 99.99 percent accuracy”…it is 99.995%; 2) “leased from Smartmatic in 2009 for P7 billion”…it was PHP 7.2 billion; 3) “purchase the PCOS at an additional cost of P2 billion”… the option to purchase was for PHP 1.8 billion; 4) “pays P800,000 a month or P9.6 billion a year in rentals for the warehouse where the PCOS are being stored”…PHP 800,000 per month is only PHP 9.6 million, not PHP 9.6 billion; 5) “Since 2009, the Comelec has spent P57.6 billion for rental fees, bringing to P66.9 billion the total amount it spent for the PCOS machines”…not PHP 57.6 billion but PHP 57.6 million and not PHP 66.9 billion but PHP 66.9 million 6) “Senior Commissioner Christian Robert Lim explained that the VMCs are equipped with a new canvassing and consolidation system (CCS)”… the CCS is NOT installed in the VCM but in servers (laptops) at the mun/city and provincial sites. Am not sure though who is wrong here, Christian Lim of Depasupil.

      Now, how are each of the VCMs being actually tested ? Is it in compliance with the standards required by the 2005 Voluntary Voting Systems Guidelines (2005 VVSG) which should test at least 20,000 bubbles (marked plus unmarked) or at least 111 ballots (depending on the final list of contested political positions) each to determine the 99.995% accuracy precisely and if more than 1 error occurs the machine is sidelined and either repaired or ejected totally.

      • ernie del rosario on

        Assumptions: there are at least 30 marked (voted) bubbles in each test ballot based on the ballot faces (front and back) having a total of 180 bubbles or positions being contested. The 180 bubbles are not yet final for there are still DQs pending decisions. So how was the total test ballots per machine determined at this point ? The final list of candidates must be produced first to determine this. Unless the estimate of the number of ballots to be tested is large enough not to end up less than the final total.