Despite Sotto speech, Comelec to still rely on Smartmatic
BACOLOD CITY—Vote-counting machines (VCMs) provided by an election technology firm that Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III wanted blacklisted were likely to be used in next year’s elections, according to a Commission on Elections (Comelec) official.
Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, in a press conference on Wednesday, said at least 92,000 VCMs from Smartmatic could be bought by the Comelec because it would be cheaper than to continue leasing them.
The Comelec, she said, planned to exercise its option to purchase the Smartmatic VCMs because it would be less expensive than renting or buying new machines “from somewhere else.”
In a privilege speech, Sotto demanded that Smartmatic be blacklisted in connection with what he said were fraudulent transmission of 2016 election results through its machines.
Guanzon said purchasing the VCMs from Smartmatic would cost only P1.9 billion compared with spending P6 billion on new machines from another supplier.
But since the voting population has increased, Guanzon said there might be a need to lease additional VCMs from Smartmatic for the 2019 elections.
She also said the Comelec en banc had already approved the use of the Voters Verification System (VVS) to verify voter identities in the country’s most vote-rich areas.
The VVS, she said, is a thumbprint identification device that could help “eliminate flying voters and multiple voters.”