Back-up machine called in at UP mock electionsBy Julie M. Aurelio and Pamela Faith Musni
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—It took three tries before the replacement machine finally went to work as mock elections got underway Saturday at University of the Philippines Integrated School in Quezon City and elsewhere in the country to test the electronic equipment to be used in next May’s Philippine mid-term elections.
Minor glitches hampered the exercise at the UPIS.
The Commission on Elections ended up replacing the precinct count optical scan machine with a back-up when it did not accept any of the test ballots that were filled out by voters.
“We decided to use a back-up machine instead so as to not encounter any more glitches. Initially the first machine did not accept the ballots, maybe because of the paper,” said Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez.
With the second machine, the first three ballots were not accepted although the subsequent ones were. Jimemez said this may have been due to the way the circles were shaded or to the creases in the paper.
The mock elections, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said, were held as a dry run of the actual voting process.
The exercise at the UPIS building in Barangays UP Campus and in Bagong Lipunan ng Crame were to go on the whole day, with the transmission of results done in the evening. Similar dry runs were going on in various places throughout the country.
According to UP President Alfredo Pascual, who witnessed the event, the cluster has around six precincts with some 882 voters.
The voters were mostly from the Daang Tubo area and student dormitories near Katipunan Avenue.
“This is part of our voters’ education program with the Comelec. We provide them with the venue,” Pascual said.
At one point, Pascual quipped: “There are more media people than voters!”
As of 10 a.m. Saturday, around 20 voters had cast their ballots, voting for popular bands like Rocksteddy, Six Cycle Mind etc.
“We do not use the names of actual candidates,” Brillantes said.
He said that through the dry run Comelec expected to identify possible glitches this early so they could fix them well before the May 13 balloting.
Jimenez noted there are 76,000 precincts nationwide and 81,000 machines.
“We will use the extra ones as back up machines as part of our contingency measure,” he said.
Some of the “voters” claimed that they experienced minor glitches with the machine.
Oscar de Vera, 61, said it was his first time with the PCOS machine.
“At first the machine did not accept it because I did not shade the entire circle. When I filled it in properly, the machine accepted my ballot,” he said.
Another voter, Janice Mejia, claimed that the replacement machine was too slow in processing the ballots.
“Some of the people were already getting angry with the delay,” she added.