Comelec to hold trade fair on automated elections system

by Sheila Crisostomo, The Philippine Star

Posted at Feb 09 2014 11:36 AM | Updated as of Feb 09 2014 07:36 PM

MANILA - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) yesterday said it will hold a trade fair to explore its possible options on the automated election system (AES).

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said the holding of the trade fair for AES suppliers was recommended by the inter-agency Comelec Advisory Council (CAC), which is evaluating the condition of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.

“Maybe anytime within the next two months, there will be a trade fair. We asked the CAC for their recommendation but they said they want a trade fair conducted first,” he said.

Under the poll automation law, the CAC is mandated to recommend to the Comelec “the most appropriate, secure, applicable and cost-effective technology to be applied in the AES.”

At present, the council is checking on some 82,000 PCOS machines to determine if they could still be used in the 2016 polls.

The council is composed of the Comelec, Department of Education, information technology professionals, non-governmental election reform groups and the Department of Science and Technology’s Information and Communication Technology Office, which is its de facto chair.

During the fair, Brillantes said possible suppliers of AES will be invited by CAC to showcase their technologies.

He said so far, the Comelec has not seen a new technology that could replace the PCOS system.

But the poll chief said that the budget to be allotted for the coming polls could be a factor in deciding whether or not the PCOS machines could still be utilized.

“It’s not only the machines that are expensive. If there are new machines, there will be new training modules... Having new technology is really expensive,” he added.

The PCOS machines were first leased by the Comelec from Smartmatic International for the 2010 polls and were later purchased for P1.8 billion for the 2013 elections.