Comelec stands by NPO despite Smartmatic allegation

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04:16 PM November 9th, 2012

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November 9th, 2012 04:16 PM

MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Friday vouched for the integrity of the ballots printed by the National Printing Office (NPO) after Smartmatic, which provides the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines for the 2013 automated midterm elections, claimed that the machines rejected 40 percent of the test ballots printed by the NPO during an initial test.

Smartmatic, which provides the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines for the 2013 automated midterm elections, said that the machines rejected 40 percent of the test ballots printed by the National Printing Office (NPO) during an initial test.

NPO Director Emmanuel Andaya, however, said that they did a second test upon orders of the Comelec and that 100 percent of the test ballots passed without a hitch.

NPO has a joint venture with Holy Family Printing to print all 55 million ballots for next year’s elections. The first of the three printing machines are already being assembled in their office.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez told reporters on Friday that Smartmatic was probably just sore at losing the contract to NPO.

He said they did not see any problems with the NPO doing the printing and that they would take action only if they felt the elections would be put at risk.

“We should not be spooked by the accusations of a losing bidder,” Jimenez said.

“If the Comelec feels that the elections would be put at risk because of the printing of the ballot, it will not hesitate to step in,” he added.

There was no reason yet to act just on the accusations of Smartmatic, Jimenez said.

He also assured the public that the Comelec has people in the NPO observing the printing to ensure it complies with the requirements of the Comelec.

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