Smartmatic fears election failure
With only two months left before Election Day, Smartmatic, the UK-based voting equipment supplier of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), has told the Comelec that it would need more than two months to make the upgrades and adjustments needed to print the voter receipts ordered by the Supreme Court.
In a letter to the Comelec, a copy of which was obtained by the Inquirer, Smartmatic said it should not be blamed for any failure of elections because of the “far-reaching repercussions” if these necessary adjustments on the vote-counting machines (VCMs) are not done.
“Based on our experience in 2010 and 2013, as well as other countries where we have assisted governments conduct their elections, the election will fail if the printed receipt feature is activated at this very late stage of the project,” said Smartmatic.
It said the proposed changes in the Supreme Court’s ruling directing the Comelec to issue voter verification receipts would impact on both the schedule and costs for the preparation for the 2016 elections.
According to Smartmatic, voters would have to go through four additional steps—learn new buttons, print, tear and drop receipt in new box.
Based on its estimates, Smartmatic said that this new voter experience would extend the voting period by more than 20 hours per cluster precinct “which in practical terms is not manageable in one election and could lead to long lines and voter unrest at the polling station.”
Running the print function was not as simple as switching a button. Smartmatic said that the VCM software and hardware would need upgrades in printer and cutter, and would require a lengthy period of testing to avoid printer failure.
Introducing the print function would also require additional training for all field staff and repair teams; voter education campaigns to teach the new interface and the drafting of a new voter flow process.
New rules have to be established on different cases arising from printing voter receipts such as if a voter destroys the receipt or takes it out of the voting center or the receipt gets jammed.
Comelec Chair Andres Bautista on Thursday said the Supreme Court ruling to print receipts was like being thrown a curve ball.
“Now we have to reassess everything,” he said, adding that the poll body would be filing today (Friday) a motion for reconsideration of the high court decision.
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