Lab testing of automated poll process starts

By Reynaldo Santos Jr., Newsbreak

Posted at Jan 21 2010 06:32 PM | Updated as of Jan 22 2010 02:32 AM

Simulated voting and transmission in 5 local governments to be conducted Wednesday

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) begins today the series of "end-to-end" tests on the automated election system that will be used nationwide in the May presidential and local elections.

The 5-day laboratory tests, to be conducted initially at a secure warehouse in Cabuyao, Laguna, will tackle all the election day activities--from the reading of the ballots by the counting machines, the transmission of the data, and the canvassing of votes.

Seventy-five precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines will be tested initially. There are now 25,700 machines from Smartmatic that are in Comelec custody. The rest of the total 82,200 machines will be shipped in batches from Taiwan.

Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal told reporters on Thursday that under this test, the empty machines and laptop will be loaded with the software designed for reading and canvassing votes. Sample ballots will then be fed onto the machines. Mock votes will be counted and transmitted, and results will be canvassed by the laptop.

The software to be used for the tests, however, is the uncertified version. Larrazabal said that the software will undergo 3 more tests for certification in Colorado, USA.

Larrazabal said the lab tests should help the Comelec spot any probable problems at any stage of the process. “These are some procedures to be taken to test the accuracy, security, and functionality of the system,” he said.

He added that Smartmatic conducted last weekend its own “end-to-end” testing of the machines, in which the company saw no problems with the machine functions. “That will be verified in this lab test,” he said.


Representatives of the Technical  Evaluation Committee, the Department of Science and Technology, the Commission Advisory Counsel, Smartmatic-TIM, and Comelec will participate in the test, which will be conducted entirely in the warehouse.

After the lab tests, the poll body will then proceed with the field tests on January 27.

The field tests, just like the lab tests, will also simulate the entire voting process to determine the voting, counting, and canvassing functions of the machines. The field tests will be conducted simultaneously in real polling precincts to get an idea of pobable conditions on election day.

The poll body selected 2 precincts, each to be serviced by 1 PCOS machine, in the following cities and municipalities for the testing:

  • Pateros
  • Taguig City
  • Bakun, Benguet
  • Naga City, Cebu
  • Lake Sebu, South Cotabato

Larrazabal said that the General Instructions for the first nationwide automated elections “specified that there should be urban and rural areas tested.” A mix of cities and municipalities were chosen to see different election day conditions.

“[The field tests] will show that the system should work not only in the urban centers but also in rural areas all over the country,” Larrazabal said.

Larrazabal said that the lab and field tests are “internal testings” only, and a nationwide mock test will be done on February 6. Details of the mock test, however, will be revealed next week yet.(Newsbreak)