Poll machine rivals trade barbs

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The two companies vying for the contract to provide polling machines for the 2016 elections continued to trade barbs as the new year opened.

Indra Sistemas and Smartmatic spent most of 2014 hurling missives at each other as they fight to win the bidding to provide the Commission on Elections (Comelec) with 23,000 optical mark readers (OMRs) to supplement the old Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines to be used in next year’s elections.

Indra warned on Friday that the polls might be compromised if the Comelec chose Smartmatic to provide the OMRs.

“We, at Indra, are apprehensive that there will be a repetition of the events that occurred, specifically a dispute between Smartmatic and the licensor of the software during the 2013 elections,” Archivald de Mata, lead counsel for Indra, said in a letter to the Comelec on Friday.


De Mata harked back to the ownership dispute between Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems that marred the 2013 elections.

Dominion, which owns the PCOS software, refused to have the source code released by Smartmatic, and almost scuttled the elections.

The provider of the election machines is required by law to release the source code.
The source code was released two days before Election Day.

Smartmatic – Total Information Management (TIM) Corp. on Friday accused Indra Sistemas S.A. of misleading the Comelec into believing that they have the experience running automated polls such as the one they did in Argentina.

Smartmatic has fired its own broadside at Indra. In the motion for reconsideration it submitted to Comelec’s Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) Smartmatic claimed that the “Single Largest Contract” submitted by Indra as part of its Eligibility Documents did not pertain to an automated elections used in Argentina.

“Evidently, the Argentina Contract is a manual election and not an automated election. Hence, Indra is misleading the BAC into believing that said contract is of a similar nature to the current bid,” lead counsel Ruby Rose Yusi said.

Indra merely provided data entry and back-up scanning of telegrams sent by the Argentinian Post, in centralized locations, and that the results of the data are for the non-official quick count, Yusi said.

The BAC had unanimously declared Indra as eligible for the first stage of the bidding based on its Eligibility Documents and the Initial Technical Proposals. Smartmatic barely qualified for the next stage after it was declared eligible via a majority vote of 3-2 from the BAC.

The bidding’s second stage will take place in the next few weeks, and bidders will be required to present their final technical financial proposals.

Comelec Chairperson Sixto Brillantes Jr. has ordered an investigation into allegations that Indra is linked to the Spanish government and implicated in corruption cases.

Brillantes said he has directed Flores to check Indra’s background to avoid “issues of conflict of interests since we cannot have a company provide us with technology and operate it while it is controlled by a foreign government.”

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