Comelec urged to conduct mock elections again
MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has been urged to conduct another mock automated election in order to rectify the reported glitches of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines during the previous mock polls.
The Joint Congressional Oversight Committee (JCOC) on Automated Election System held a hearing Wednesday to question Comelec officials about the said glitches such as rejection of some ballots by PCOS machines during Saturday’s mock elections.
“The mock election was good because it exposed the weaknesses [of the automated system],” Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, head of the Senate panel, told reporters after the hearing.
“I told [Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. that] we have to have confidence building measures, we cannot just stop after the mock elections and leave the perception of people that the automated system is more disorderly and their votes might not be counted,” Cayetano said in Filipino.
Comelec executive director Jose Tolentino Jr. explained during the hearing that some of the reasons why a few ballots were not initially accepted by the PCOS machines was that they had been folded or crumpled when voters “jammed” the ballot into the PCOS.
Such “ramming” of ballots caused tampering in some security features on the ballot that’s why it would not be accepted by the PCOS, Brillantes said.
But when the ballots were carefully fed into the PCOS, it was accepted, Tolentino said. In a few cases where the ballot was still not being accepted by the PCOS, it was tried in another spare PCOS reserved for contingency measures and was immediately accepted, he added.
Brillantes also explained that another possible reason why some of the ballots were not immediately accepted was because of improper or inadequate shading of the ovals. He said that the PCOS was configured to return the ballot in such cases so that the voter can correct the shading.
Bayan Muna party-list Representative Neri Colmenares said they are proposing that another mock elections be held as early as April 12.
“Our proposal here in the JCOC is to conduct another mock elections at most April 12, if not earlier, so whatever glitches can be cured by the Comelec [before election time],” Colmenares told reporters in a separate interview.
He also said that the final testing to be conducted by Comelec a week before the elections was insufficient.
Cayetano also urged for another mock elections saying “it is important that the mock elections be given a take two. It is important to show that this is 100 percent glitch-free.”
“What people expect is that, after waiting in line for a long period of time, their vote will be counted,” Cayetano said.