Comelec: 2016 voting will still be automated
Filipino voters will not revert back to the old manual system of voting and counting during the 2016 elections, according to the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
“The commission en banc specifically said that we will automate. The Comelec is determined to automate the elections and the manual elections is not being considered for now,” said Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez following a special commission en banc meeting on Thursday afternoon.
Some groups earlier raised concern over the possibility of the country reverting back to the old manual system of voting and vote counting after the Supreme Court junked the Comelec-Smartmatic deal for the refurbishment of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.
This prompted the poll body to come up with alternative options for the holding of the 2016 polls, including the possibility of returning to the manual elections or considering the use of former poll Commissioner Gus Lagman’s Transparent and Credible Election System (TCrES), which is a hybrid of the manual and automated election system.
Jimenez said the commission en banc decided to trim down their alternative plans to either hold a public bidding for the refurbishment of the 81,000 PCOS machines or conduct public bidding for new Optical Mark Reader (OMR) machines.
“First, we’re looking at the possibility of bidding out the refurbishment contract, but at the same time we’re also looking at the possibility of just procuring new machines,” said Jimenez.
“We have not yet finished the discussion on this. We just narrowed it down to these two major options. There will be bidding either way,” he added.
Should the en banc decide to hold a public bidding for the PCOS repair, Jimenez assured the public there would be enough time to conduct the bid process and the actual refurbishment.
On the other hand, if the Comelec would bid for new machines, Jimenez said they would procure another 63,000 Optical Mark Reader (OMR) machines.
The Comelec bids and awards committee (BAC) is already conducting post-qualification evaluation of the bid of Smartmatic-TIM for the supply of the 23,000 OMR machines to be leased for the 2016 polls.
“So that’s 23,000 OMRs, the bidding for which is ongoing, then a new bidding for 63,000… I think it’s still within the budget coming from our savings,” said Jimenez.
The Supreme Court junked the extended warranty deal for the refurbishment of the PCOS machines between the Comelec and Smartmatic-TIM saying it violated provisions of the Government Procurement Act (Republic Act No. 9184) on the rules of public bidding.SM
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