Information technology group Filipino Information Technology for Elections (FIT4E) on Saturday presented the features of the Precinct Automated Tallying System or PATaS at Bacoor National High School in Bacoor City, Cavite province in the presence of officials of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) led by Chairman Andres Bautista.
The mock voting that was conducted in two precincts where 392 voters were listed was completed just before noon. Counting started at 1 p.m.
Grade 8 teacher Lovenia Neri, chairman of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI), said voting went smoothly. The “election” was conducted in two modes: by shading the numbers of candidates and writing the names of the candidates.
The tally process was shown to the observers through a screen projector.
Neri admitted that using Smartmatic’s Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) is faster because there was no need to tally the votes.
The technology group, through the demonstration, underscored the need for a process that guarantees transparency and speed in presenting the results of elections to the public.
The votes are sent to municipal, provincial and national canvassers, or through the automated Consolidation Canvassing System.
Gus Lagman, one of the proponents of PATaS, said if the Comelec determines that the manual tallying of votes on big sheets of papers will delay the voting process, his group is willing to get rid of it since they have a laptop where vote counts are entered and the tally is shown through a screen projector.
Lagman said the same data will be sent to the Quick Count Server where the media may monitor the counting. The same data will automatically be posted online where people can also get updates.
“What is important is that the elections are transparent. With PCOS, you don’t know where your votes are,” he said.
Lagman said their proposed budget for 2016 elections is between P4 billion and P5 billion, cheaper than the reported budget of Smartmatic and another proponent.
Aside from the savings, Lagman said all laptops, printers, cameras and projectors used during the elections will be donated to the schools where the elections were held.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez admitted that manual counting takes time because it usually takes 24 hours or more.
“But the additional features of PATaS like the projector are impressive,” he said, adding that all these features will be discussed by Comelec commissioners.
Bautista said the Comelec is studying if the agency can use the PATaS by May 2016 elections.
“Time is of the essence. We need to make a decision by July next month. The parallel bidding continues to flow and on June 30, on Tuesday, we will have the opening of the financial bids,” he said.
Meanwhile, Rep. Fredenil Castro of Capiz, chairman of the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms, said he favors the use of PCOS machines. He noted that with the use of PCOS machines, each precinct can accommodate more than a thousand voters.
Bacoor City Mayor Strike Revilla said the use of PCOS machines eliminates protests during the counting and even after canvassing.
But Lagman said with PATaS, winners may be proclaimed within five to six hours after closing time.