It’s a toss-up between Rizal, Juan Luna in Smartmatic mock poll
It’s a toss-up between national hero Jose Rizal and revolutionary Juan Luna for President, and a mandate for the heir to the Lion King’s throne as Vice President.
Mock elections held at the Inquirer on Friday saw heroes, celebrities and cartoon characters winning the elections.
But if there was one clear winner, it would be VCM: the vote-counting machine.
Despite deliberate superfluous marks like smileys, overvotes, undervotes and attempts to have ballots counted twice, the VCM showed off its “intelligence” during the Inquirer test on Friday, reflecting accurate results on printed receipts.
“The voting machine would count the votes that were shaded,” said Elie Moreno, general manager of Smartmatic-TIM (Total Information Management) in the Philippines, the government’s contractor for the automated elections.
Moreno and Karen Jimeno, Smartmatic’s head for voter education, were guests on Friday at the Meet Inquirer Multimedia Forum.
Some 92,509 of these machines will be used nationwide on polling day, while 120 units are currently being used in Philippine missions around the world for overseas absentee voting.
“Today, we used 12 ballots and you’ve seen that whoever you shaded is reflected on the receipt … We saw that, 12 out of 12, they (mock voters) personally saw the ballots and they all matched (on the receipts) based on what they shaded,” Jimeno said.
Smartmatic officials reiterated the reliability of voting machines in delivering accurate election results as they encouraged voters to do their role in ensuring the orderly conduct of the May 9 polls.
For one, Jimeno said, come to the precinct ready with a codigo or a prepared list of your choice to help you speed up casting your votes. Bring a valid identification card for verification.
“It really helps a lot because you’re not there [in the precinct] taking up so much time just choosing the candidates,” said Jimeno, citing a mock vote where one voter took between 30 to 45 minutes just to make the selections.
This part takes up the longest, said Jimeno. When it is time for the VCM to do its part, the process is over quickly.
“Actually, feeding the ballot and getting the receipt take one to two minutes,” Jimeno said.
She encouraged voters to come to precincts early so the board of election inspectors (BEIs), the teachers who supervise the voting, could also finish early. Voting precincts will open an hour early this election year, 6 a.m., and close at 5 p.m.
“Be considerate of the BEI members … Don’t let them (work) until dark. Because in areas like Mindanao, we know vote machines will continue running (even at night), but we don’t know how much light will be provided (at the precincts),” she said.
In shading the ballots, remember never to overvote, or to choose more candidates for the available slots. In short, don’t choose 13 senators or more than one representative.
If you do that, all your other choices will be invalidated (for that position), Jimeno said.
On the other hand, it is perfectly fine not to complete all 12 choices, as partial votes will still be counted.
“If you shade only five for senators, the seven other [slots] will be reflected as an undervote,” she said.
“It is OK to undervote, but not to overvote,” Jimeno said.
She also urged voters to make sure to completely shade their choices. Do not check or put an “X” mark, much less a dot. Fill the circle completely using felt-tip markers provided at the precincts. You don’t have to bring your own nor insist on using a ballpoint pen.
“Incomplete shading is counted as an abstention,” Jimeno said.
Remember, there are no do-overs. One registered voter is entitled to only one ballot.
The VCM can read the back-to-back ballot whether you put it top or bottom side first, front or back side first, Jimeno said. After reading your sheet, the machine will then print a receipt, which should reflect all your choices.
The paper could be easily torn off its slot, but the BEIs will be armed with scissors to ensure a clean job on Election Day. Yanking the receipt could cause the thermal paper to jam, delaying the voting process.
Don’t try to feed the ballot into the machine a second time, as the VCM could spot a redundancy.
“It’s never going to happen that ballots will be counted more than once because the machine knows it had been counted previously,” Jimeno said.
Jimeno also reminded voters that they may not bring their receipts home. Per orders of the Supreme Court, which compelled the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to activate the VCM’s voter receipt feature, each printout must be deposited in a separate receptacle at the polling precinct.
You may not take even a photograph of your receipt. The rule is a safeguard against the possibility that receipts would be used as a tool for vote-buying.
“Don’t bring it (receipt) home. It’s election paraphernalia. It’s an election offense if you bring it home,” Jimeno said.
The machines are equipped with batteries to ensure that voting continues despite a power outage. Moreno said the batteries could last for at least 14 hours, enough for the scheduled 11-hour voting day.
To ensure the timely transmission of results, areas with poor to nil Internet connection will be provided with BGAN units (broadband global area network), which work through satellite connection and not within the traditional Internet service, Moreno said.
A total of 4,500 BGANs will be deployed in remote corners of the country.
Transmission of results to Comelec servers begins immediately when voting hours end.
Likely winners may be known as soon as the following day, said Moreno, as 90 percent of election returns could be accounted within the first 24 hours under the automated system. TVJ
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