Smartmatic, Comelec sign deal for 2016
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) and Smartmatic-Total Information Management Corp. (Smartmatic-TIM) have finally signed the contract for the lease of 70,977 optical mark reader (OMR) machines for the May 2016 elections.
“We already signed the contract last Sept. 4. And [we also] issued the notice to proceed,” Comelec Commissioner Christian Robert Lim, who chairs the steering committee for the 2016 elections, told a press briefing on Tuesday.
Without the notice to proceed, Smartmatic-TIM won’t be able to turn over to the Comelec the source code of the automatic election system that will be used in the elections.
The source code is a set of computer instructions written in human-readable computer language that regulates the operation of the computer that scans and counts the ballots.
The signing of the P6.3-billion deal came just a week after the Comelec and Smartmatic-TIM signed a separate contract worth P1.7 billion for the lease of the first lot of 23,000 OMR units.
As Comelec officials themselves admitted, the poll body has been forced to lease all-new voting machines for the 2016 polls, as the option of refurbishing the 81,896 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines that were used in previous elections had to be abandoned for lack of time. The 81,896 old PCOS machines were to have been supplemented by the 23,000 new OMRs.
The Comelec en banc then decided to opt for the use of all-new OMR machines for the 2016 polls.
With the notice to proceed already issued, Lim said they expect all the 93,977 OMR units (the first lot of 23,000 and the second lot of 70,977) to be delivered by January.
Lim noted that the delivery of the OMR units will use a similar timeline for the two lots. Thus, there will be an initial delivery this September of five OMR machines for the first lot and five machines for the second lot. In October, 200 machines will be delivered for each lot.
Six-thousand units will be delivered in November for each lot, and another 6,000 for each lot in December, while the remainder will be delivered in January.
The Comelec earlier assured the public that the integrity and accuracy of the vote will be safeguarded despite the decision to shift from the old PCOS to the OMR in 2016.
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