SOME 45,000 out of the 97,519 vote counting machines (VCMs) that will be used by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in the coming synchronized local and national polls have arrived in the country.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez on Friday disclosed that of the number, 20,944 units had been delivered to the Comelec’s warehouse in Santa Rosa, Laguna, while the remaining 24,000 were still awaiting release by the Bureau of Customs (BoC).
According to Jimenez, full delivery that accounts for the remaining 52,575 machines would be made by the end of the month as agreed upon by the Comelec and technology provider Smartmatic Corp.
He explained that the voting machines would undergo hardware testing before they are accepted by the poll body to ensure that they are functional.
The Comelec earlier planned to use a mix of old Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines and the new VCMs for the 2016 polls but opted instead a repeat order for an additional 3,540 new machines for P133.466 million
The 3,540 units will augment the 93,977 units it earlier leased with option to purchase from Smartmatic-TIM Corp.
The Comelec has appropriated a total of P10.37 billion for the 93,977 units.
It has approved an additional purchase of 4,000 plus ballot boxes for P12 million to cover for the shortfall when it ordered the first batch of 23,000 units of PCOS machines but only 20,800 were delivered.
Senior Commissioner Christian Robert Lim explained that the repeat order for 3,540 VCMs was necessitated by the last-minute surge of new voters.
The sudden rush pushed the number of voters expectation that resulted in a rise in the machine-to-voter ratio from 1:800 to 1:1,000.
Lim said an “inter-operability” problem also cropped up in a mixed use of old and new PCOS machines.
The VMCs, he also explained, have a new canvassing and consolidation system (CCS), whose results cannot be read by the old PCOS machines.
“The new ones we require that [they have]to have a detection system, it will detect if there are lines, [which was a problem in the old PCOS machines]. Now we will still face the same problem with refurbished PCOS [machines]because [they]will not be able to detect if there are lines,” Lim said.
He pointed out that the old PCOS machines used a CF card, while the new version use SD card, and the configuration of ballots was also different.