Why Comelec may use old PCOS machines in 2016 elections

Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - After junking the option to refurbish 82,000 old precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is now looking into the possibility of using a number of these old PCOS to augment the new voting machines for the 2016 polls.

This, according to Comelec chairman Andres Bautista, would bring down the ratio of voters per precinct and enhance the voter experience.

"At 100,000, the machine to voter count would be about one machine to around 800 voters, and we are hoping that perhaps by utilizing these old machines we could be able to lower that further. That would mean greater ease for out voters because that would mean shorter lines for voting," Bautista told reporters Tuesday during the Comelec's weekly briefing.

The poll body has already formed a task group to study this possibility, while assuring the public that government funds will not be used.

A number of international IT firms from Microsoft, IBM, HP, Dell and GE have been consulted and have volunteered to send experts to examine the current conditions of the machines.

"Initially it will be an internal effort on the part of the Comelec, sariling sikap kumbaga, with the help of private volunteers and other government agencies like the DOST (Department of Science and Technology)," Bautista said.

The chairman explained that though they may have initially considered the possibility of mixing refurbished and new machines for the 2016 polls before going for the lease of 93,000 new machines, time was their main concern during that time.

"Our main direction is still the same which is to lease new machines but what we want to do is we want to augment these new machines with some of the old machines," he said.

Bautista added that they will still bid out the refurbishment of the old machines for use in the 2019 elections.

The Comelec's asset department is also now in the process of conducting an inventory of old equipment and election paraphernalia that were used in the 2013 midterm elections to know which of these could still be used in 2016.