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90,000 vote-counting machines now in PH–Comelec

Most are already in Sta. Rosa, Laguna warehouse, for accuracy, hardware tests, says poll body
By: - Reporter / @santostinaINQ
/ 08:46 AM February 05, 2016
Comelec chair Andres Bautista during walkthrough at Commission on Elections warehouse in Sta. Rosa, Laguna province, February 4, 2016, which stores vote counting machines. INQUIRER PHOTO / NINO JESUS ORBETA

Comelec chair Andres Bautista during walkthrough at Commission on Elections warehouse in Sta. Rosa, Laguna province, February 4, 2016, which stores vote counting machines. INQUIRER PHOTO / NINO JESUS ORBETA

MANILA — Most of the 97,000 vote-counting machines (VCMs) that will be used in the May national and local elections are now in the Philippines, according to the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Comelec Chair Andres Bautista, in a press briefing, said some 90,000 machines have already arrived in the country.  Another 6,000 are in transit from Taiwan where they are manufactured, according to the election body chairman.

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More than 18,000 machines have been undergoing Bureau of Customs procedures for clearance.

Of the VCMs already in the country, 71,456 have been stored in a five-hectare warehouse in Sta. Rosa, Laguna where they have been undergoing the hardware acceptance test (HAT), the first in a series of tests the units will undergo before they are deemed ready for use.

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The Comelec on Thursday took members of the media for a walk-through in the facility.

Marlon Garcia, Smartmatic project manager, has explained that the HAT involves tests to check whether the machines’ scanners are working properly.

“We run the diagnostics of a machine to make sure the it runs accurately and reliably,” Garcia said.

In another accuracy test, each machine will be made to scan 1,000 ballots with a total of 20,000 marks.

He said they would make sure the machines comply with the requirements of the law—a “99.95 percent accuracy in reading the marks.”

Any machine found to be inaccurate would be sent to “quarantine” for repair,” he said.

So far, 250 VCMs or 0.3 percent of the total number of VCMs have been placed under quarantine.

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“These machines have been repaired or replaced and will be made to undergo the same testing process all over again,” Garcia said.

The media was also shown the outside of the high-security Memory Configuration Room where universal memory cards for the VCMs are being configured based on information generated by the Election Management System (EMS). This includes data such as the names of the candidates and precinct numbers.

Each machine is then given a unique identity. “This is the step where the VCM gets its own identity,” Garcia explained. “The machine will know which specific precinct it belongs to and which ballots it can accept,” Garcia explained.

The warehouse facility is owned by JAM Liner Inc. and is being leased by the commission for about P68 million per year.

“Schools, students are welcome to hold field trips so they would have an idea what happens during elections. Just send us a notice and we can arrange that,” the poll chief said.  SFM

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TAGS: 2016 elections, accuracy test, Andres Bautista, Automated elections, Bureau of Customs, Commission on Elections, Election, Election Automation, hardware acceptance test, HAT, Marlon Garcia, Nation, news, scanners, Smartmatic, technology, vote counting machines
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