STA. Rosa City, Laguna: Delays and glitches marred the end-to-end election transmission test held by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) here Sunday.
The testing simulated election day scenario to determine how fast the voting results will be transmitted from the municipality level to the Comelec warehouse here, which served as the National Board of Canvassers.
The election and transmittal of votes were simultaneously conducted in the National Capital Region and Regions V, VII and XI, involving 34 precincts and 1,000 voters.
Comelec Commissioner Christian Robert Lim said there were delays because the official ballots for the town of Pateros in Metro Manila and Digos, Davao del Sur were switched.
The anomaly was discovered more than an hour after the mock voting started.
“The ballots for Pateros went to Capatagan in Digos, Davao, while the official ballots and I-button intended for Digos went to Pateros. There was a switch in deployment,” Lim told reporters.
The glitch delayed the voting process by about four hours in Pateros and seven to eight hours in Capatagan.
To save time, the National Printing Office in Quezon City reprinted the 50 ballots intended for Pateros so that it can be delivered immediately.
The ballots intended for Digos, on the otherhand, was pulled out from Pateros and shipped to Capatagan, which is two hours away from the town proper.
“For Pateros, it arrived at about 12:30 to 1 p.m. We expect that mock elections in Digos would start by 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.,” Lim said.
He gave assurances that the problem is not likely to happen on May 9, saying that the Comelec has put in place necessary safeguards that will give them enough time and leeway to correct such a situation.
The poll official said they will start shipping the official ballots on April 25. The delivery of ballots will be completed on May 5, four days before the elections.
“In a worse case scenario that a switch will happen, it can easily be detected at the treasurer’s level. So there is still enough time to correct it before elections,” Lim said. “We have an official inventory system for the ballots and they are properly marked indicating the precinct, town or city.”
Lim disclosed that slow transmission of results was also experienced in some areas, including in Metro Manila.
“I’m not particular about the precinct but there is one area in Manila where they cannot transmit from inside the classrooms. So they have to either go out [to get a better signal]or they have to transfer to other schools where the signal is strong,” Lim said.
He said that if the same problem will be experienced on May 9, the members of the board of election inspectors (BEIs) can transfer to the nearest polling center with a strong Internet signal or they may go directly to the canvassing center.
A site survey conducted by the Comelec showed that out of the 36,000 precincts, 6,000 have no signals.
The Comelec uses two modes of transmission — broadband global area network (BGAN) satellite system and cellular data using the facilities of telecom networks via a SIM card inserted inside the counting machine.
The BGAN is more reliable but the Comelec opted to a mix system because of the prohibitive cost of satellite transmission.
The Commission will use the BGAN system for the 6,000 polling areas with weak or no signals while the 30,000 other precincts will use SIM cards,
Since the Comelec only has 738 BGANs in its inventory, Lim said that some polling centers will have to share BGANs.
As of presstime, only the National Capital Region and Region V have registered a 100 percent transmission.