Mock elections to determine machines’ accuracy
THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) will hold mock polls nationwide Saturday to test the accuracy and reliability of the counting machines that will be used for the national and local elections in May.
At least 25,000 voters will participate in the mock elections to be conducted in 20 locations around the country, including the remote areas of Aparri in Cagayan Valley and Basilan in Mindanao. That compares with five locations in 2010 and nine in 2013.
The mock polls will simulate the actual election procedures—from voting, counting, consolidation and canvassing.
On Friday, the commission said glitches in the Automated Election System (AES) earlier discovered by a private testing company had been fixed.
Comelec Chairman Juan Andres Bautista described the end-to-end test conducted on Thursday at the poll body’s warehouse in Sta. Rosa Laguna as successful. He stressed that simulation of the election process is necessary to determine the reliability of the automated system after remedying the problem.
In compliance with RA 9369 or the Automated Election Law, the Comelec deposited the three source codes for the vote counting machine (VCM), the elections management system (EMS) and the consolidation and canvassing system (CCS) in a rented vault at the basement of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) also on Friday.
“Because of this, we will proceed tomorrow with the mock elections and see what will happen,” Bautista said. “The fruit of the pudding is in the eating. So it remains to be seen.”
“Our source codes are already OK. But it is important that we see it in action. That is why the mock elections tomorrow are very important,” he added. “It is very important that come election day it must be as close to perfect.”
Bautista said 100 voters will cast their “votes” in 18 precincts from 7 a.m. to 12 noon, while two of so-called special precincts will hold the mock elections the whole day or from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“Two special precincts will conduct a real end-to-end from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., involving the entire precincts. One of the precincts is located in the first district of Quezon City while the other will be in Manila,” the Comelec chief told reporters.
The Comelec had to postpone by a week the scheduled printing of ballots on February 8 because of incompatibility problems between the EMS and CCS, two of the three programs supplied by election provider Smartmatic Corp.
The EMS designs the configuration for the vote counting machines, such as the precinct number and the number of voters per precinct, among others.
The delay prompted some lawmakers and various groups to express fears that the Comelec might find reason to delay the elections in some areas, including Metro Manila.
Smartmatic gave assurances that the glitches detected had been fixed and declared the software “perfect.”
Marlon Garcia, project head of Smartmatic, said the three components of the system are now working seamlessly.
“We already loaded the data on the EMS [election management system], we already transferred all the information and configuration files from the EMS to the machine. And also to the CCS [consolidation and canvassing system]. We made some transmissions and so far everything works perfectly,” he said.
The source code is provided by Smarmatic. It is a voting software program customized for Philippine elections that will be installed in the VCMs.
The Comelec has signed a P35 million contract with the US-based SLI Global Solutions for the testing and review of the source code submitted by Smartmatic.
As certifier, SLI is tasked to ensure the source code submitted by Smartmatic meets the specifications and performance required by the Comelec.
The SLI has not yet submitted its official report on its findings on the source codes.