Saturday, 13 March 2010

More poll machines ready – Smartmatic

By Anna Valmero

MANILA, Philippines – More poll machines have passed laboratory tests and are ready for use in the upcoming elections in May, the automation partner of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said on Thursday.

Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) president for Asia-Pacific Cesar Flores told that 18,000 more precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines have passed the stress, security and laboratory tests, bringing to 78,000 the total number of poll machines ready for the elections.

The machines will now be configured and loaded with voters’ data specific to its designated clustered precinct, Flores said.

When poll machines have passed the testing and have been loaded with the precinct-specific data, they would then be loaded with the automation software duly certified by international certification agency Systest Labs, Flores added.

Only 4,000 poll machines are now left for testing, he said, adding that they are expecting that the remaining machines would be tested by the end of March and installed with automation software by early April.

“Right now about 78,000 PCOS machines have passed the testing and this already includes the 77,000 poll machines to be deployed on May 10. We expect the testing to be done very soon, as early as the end of the month,” Flores said.

Around 800 employees are testing the machines daily at Comelec-Smartmatic-TIM’s warehouse in Laguna.

During the testing, the poll machines are fed with hundreds of marked paper ballots to ensure they can read and scan all the shaded ovals opposite all pre-printed names of candidates and, after scanning, that they can print the Election Returns (ERs), said Smartmatic warehouse manager Louie Campos in an earlier interview.

All 82,200 machines arrived in the country Feb 27, a day before the shipment deadline.

Meanwhile, the National Printing Office has already printed at least 12 million ballots to be used for the country’s first ever nationwide automated elections.

PCOS is a technology that uses an optical scanner which reads marked ballots fed into the machine. At the close of polls on May, the PCOS units are expected to count votes, generate ERs and electronically transmit the consolidated results to Comelec servers.

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