Printing of official ballots off to slow start

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 05 2013 12:36 PM | Updated as of Feb 05 2013 08:36 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections admits that the printing of official ballots got off to a slow start but insists there were no hitches.

Last night, ABS-CBN reported that printing of the ballots started after 10 pm but had to stop after some problems with the printing.

That was after an almost full day of delay because of the late delivery of the ballot design from the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machine warehouse in Cabuyao, Laguna.

Comelec Executive Director Jose Tolentino said what media saw last night was the test printing of ballots, which stopped after a few prints. He said printing resumed shortly before midnight with ballots from 4 towns in North Cotabato.

By 1am, the printing had the following progress report: Carmen, North Cotabato – 25,200 ballots; Kabacan, North Cotabato – 39,864 ballots; Alamada, North Cotabato – 23,368 ballots; and Pikit, North Cotabato – 36,496 ballots.

A total of 124, 928 ballots was printed by 1 am Tuesday.

Tolentino said the ballot design arrived at 6 pm and went through hours of verification and documentation. He said each design had to be checked for the accuracy of the coordinates of the ovals.

Each municipality with a unique ballot will have to be checked. After checking, it will be loaded to the server before it can be printed.

The Comelec officials said they generally print ballots from far flung places first. Next to be printed after Cotabato are ballots from Caraga then ARMM.

Tolentino noted ARMM ballots must have Arabic translations, which require an adjustment in the ballot design.

He said templates have to be checked against the project of precincts since each precinct can only be given an exact number of ballots corresponding to the number of voters.

Once a roll of paper is finished, that's when the roll is brought to the sheather. After being cut, it is then brought to the PCOS machines for testing.

Once the ballots pass testing, these ballots are vacuum packed.

Tolentino expects the pace of ballot printing to pick up in a week's time. He said they have enough time since the deadline to print the last ballots is April 25.

After printing, the ballots will be temporarily housed in the printers’ warehouse prior to deployment. Deployment starts March 15.