MANILA, Philippines - As if making up for lost time, the printing of official ballots for the May 2010 automated polls were fast and non-stop since Monday evening -- a scene many people say is long overdue.
From the original schedule of January 7, printing was moved to January 25, January 31, and then finally set on February 7.
But until then, only sample ballots for testing and training were being printed.
Official ballots were not yet produced because they have a different size, and the machines had to be recalibrated.
Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal, head of the Comelec Poll Automation Steering Committee, said that there had to be recalibration, specifically on the length of the ballots.
The ballots will measure 25 inches, while those for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) will be 2 inches longer to accommodate the Arabic translations of the names.
The Comelec also said printing was delayed a couple of times due to pending disqualification cases involving some candidates.
Smartmatic-TIM said the delays were for quality control.
Printing was supposed to begin Monday morning, but did not start as scheduled because the ink's colors had to be fine-tuned.
The official ballot has a new layout -- candidates' names are arranged in rows instead of columns.
Smartmatic said this was done to save on space and make it easier for voters to answer.
After printing, ballots are tested on the PCOS machine. Rejected ballots will be placed on quarantine and then destroyed.
This whole process will go on non-stop until the deadline on April 25.
The printing of ballots will go full-blast at the end of this week. Production will run 24/7, and up to 800,000 ballots a day are expected to be printed.
Comelec and Smartmatic-TIM say they hope this would be enough to allay fears that poll automation is bound to fail. Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News