Comelec mulls over sale of PCOS machines
MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) may sell its vaunted automated voting machines should it opt to switch to newer technology for the 2016 presidential polls.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said there was a possibility the 80,000 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines the poll agency had bought for P1.8 billion in 2013 would be sold should the inter-agency Comelec Advisory Council recommend it.
Model in Asia
Jimenez said the PCOS machines could be sold to countries planning to automate their elections such as Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Bangladesh and Nepal.
He said the Philippines’ experience with automated polls was considered a model in Asia.
“We have a wide range of experience and expertise in terms of automated elections. Many countries are actually asking us about our experience and how they can learn from it. Because of this, there is a possibility it is now our turn to become vendors, and it is unlikely that there will be no takers,” said Jimenez in an interview.
He said selling the PCOS machines to other countries was a good “exit strategy” to make back the public funds that went into the purchase of the units from Smartmatic International. For the 2010 elections, the Comelec leased the machines from Smartmatic.
“Assuming that we really reach the point of not using the PCOS anymore, (reselling them) would ensure that buying them was not a waste of money,” Jimenez said.
Earlier, he said the Comelec was not certain it would utilize the PCOS machines for the 2016 presidential polls as it was awaiting the recommendation of the Comelec Advisory Council (CAC) that was evaluating the machines.
Jimenez said the Comelec was also conducting its own review of the PCOS machines, but under the law the “CAC has the responsibility to come up with the review of the 2013 elections and to make recommendations for the 2016” polls.
He said the Comelec’s foremost concern was the condition of the machines’ hardware since they were used in 2010 and 2013. He said normal wear and tear may make them impractical to use in 2016.
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