Smartmatic liable if printing is delayed

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ELECTION provider Smartmatic Corp. would be held liable if the Commission on Elections (Comelec) failed to meet its April 25 deadline for printing of official ballots that would be used in the coming local and national polls.

“Yes [Smartmatic is accountable if we fail to meet the April 25 deadline],” Chairman Juan Andres Bautista said on Thursday even as he clarified that the company would have no liability if the printing of ballots was finished as scheduled.

Smarmatic is the supplier of the ballot face and the 97,915 vote counting machines (VCMs) that would be used in the May 9 elections.

Printing was stopped on Monday after it was discovered that the name of the political party of Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago was not included in the ballot face that bears the names of presidential candidates.
Defensor is running for President.


According to Bautista, printing of officials ballots would resume today as advised by Director Genevieve Guevarra, chief of the Comelec Printing Committee.

“In fact, this afternoon we will again start printing the official ballots for the OAV [Overseas Absentee Voting],” he said, adding that thereafter printing of other ballots would be continuously done.

Guevarra said the error was discovered also on Monday while printing the FTS or final testing and sealing ballots, which form part of the total 56,772,230 ballots.

But according to her, the mistake created no substantial wastage because only 39 FTS ballots had been printed when the error was spotted by personnel assigned to the ballot verification team.

Guevarra admitted that there timeline was affected in a way but said they would still be able to meet their April 25 deadline to finish the printing because they have included a two-week buffer in their timeline.

She, however, said they could not afford any more delays.

According to Guevarra, the National Printing Office (NPO) machines have the capacity to print 800,000 to 1 million ballot per day at optimum speed.

The Comelec is printing a total of 56,772,230 ballots, of which, 54,363,844 correspond to the number of registered voters, and 1,189,350 ballots to that of overseas absentee voters.
Also to be printed are ballots for testing, and another 223,611 ballots for the local absentee voters.

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