WITH the 2016 elections drawing closer and with no certainty if it will be able to have enough counting machines, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is now considering using the transparent and credible election system (TCrES) next year.
Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista told the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the Automated Election System (JCOC-AES) that the poll body considered using the TCrES in case the biddings for the refurbishment and repair of 80,000 Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines and the acquisition of additional counting machines fail.
However, Bautista expressed hopes that the bidding process will be completed this month.
The Comelec, he told lawmakers, created two special committees to oversee the two bidding projects. He said the poll body decided to conduct parallel biddings for them to have enough time to study their best option for 2016.
“Hopefully both biddings will be successful so we will have options. The problem is if only one bidding succeeds, then I guess we will have to veer towards that (TCrES) or if both biddings fail we will have to look at our contingency plans,” Bautista said.
TCrES, a hybrid election system combining manual and automated process, is being pushed by various election watchdogs, including former Comelec Commissioner Gus Lagman, who finds the credibility of the PCOS machines highly questionable.
Under the TCrES, precinct counting will be manual but an improved design of the Tally Sheet forms and Election Returns will be used.
The results will then be encoded, verified and the precinct results will be electronically transmitted to the Municipal Board of Canvassers (MBOC) and the Central Verification Server (CVS).
Proponents of TCrES said this system is more credible and less expensive, compared to PCOS and direct-voting electronic (DRE) technologies.
Bautista said there will be a presentation of TCrES on May 27 at the Comelec and if everything goes well, the poll body will look for ways on how to fasttract that option.
“We’re looking at various options. Of course the automated election (PCOS) is tried and tested in 2010 and 2013, the hybrid is new but we will see, maybe we can fast tract this system,” he said.
Several groups and individuals have been asking the Comelec to ditch the PCOS machines because of the glitches that marred the 2013 mid-term elections such as the presence of digital lines in ballots that are capable of changing poll results.
Sen. Aquilino Pimentel 3rd in an interview after the hearing said the Comelec should come up with an effective maintenance procedure for the PCOS machines in case it decides to use the system in 2016.
Pimentel cited the findings of the Department of Science and Technology that the digital lines were caused by dust and other external elements.
“So the PCOS machines need proper maintenance to prevent the glitch. The Comelec should include this in all its planning and additional cost,” Pimentel said.