MANILA, Philippines - Despite doubts on the accuracy and reliability of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines that will be used in the May elections, the number of registered voters has reached more than 52 million, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said yesterday.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said that based on the poll body’s Jan. 22 data, a total of 52,014,648 voters - the highest ever recorded - have signed up to participate in the May 13 midterm polls.
For the country’s first automated polls in 2010, 50,653,828 voters registered.
“It’s not a net gain of one million, rather about five million because the (almost) 51 million in 2010 went down to 47 million after delisting. Now it went up again (to 52 million),” he said.
For the 2013 polls, the Comelec resumed the continuing registration of voters and validation of registration records for more than a year until last October.
During this period, the poll body also removed from their list voters who registered more than once by cross-matching their biometrics data using the Automated Fingerprint Identification System.
This resulted in the delisting of around five million voters, Jimenez said.
He said the huge number of registrants for the coming polls is an indication of the public’s high interest in the automated polls.
“Aside from the fact that the number of Filipinos aged 18 years old and above is rising, obviously there’s also a high interest in the automated elections,” he said.
The Comelec official said he had encountered people who are looking forward to this year’s elections because they did not experience voting through the PCOS machines in 2010.
“So at least a small percentage or a big percentage of the people are curious and that drives them to vote,” Jimenez added.
Comelec records showed that in the 2004 elections, the total number of voters reached 43,522,634 while in the 2007 polls, 44,881,129 voters registered.
The Comelec has been raking in criticism for the glitches in some PCOS machines during the mock elections conducted last Feb. 2 in 10 areas across the country.
These glitches include the rejection of the ballots by the PCOS machines, delay in the initialization of the units and disruption in the transmission of election results.