Comelec to beat April 30 deadline for ballot printing

By Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 17 2010 03:42 PM | Updated as of Mar 17 2010 11:42 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections on Wednesday said it is confident that it will be able to print all 50 million ballots needed for the May 10 automated elections by April 30.

In an interview, Comelec Chairman Jose Melo said a total of 17 million ballots have already been printed by the National Printing Office. He said 4 NPO printers are churning out 700,000 ballots every day, with a 5th printer expected to arrive any day.

"There will be a 5th printer coming in. It's like cavalry to the rescue," he told reporters.

Melo said the arrival of the 5th printer would invalidate the need to print manual ballots for the May 10 elections.

The Comelec is scheduled to send the ballots and other election paraphernalia to the various regions beginning April 19.

The Comelec chairman, meanwhile, said the poll body is monitoring the delivery of 82,200 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines to polling precincts all over the country.

Melo said automation provider Smartmatic-TIM is tapping three forwarding companies to deliver the PCOS machines nationwide. He added that Smartmatic has its own tracking system that would check if the machines have been delivered.

Voters urged to cast vote early

Melo also urged voters to cast their votes early on election day to avoid long queues at the polling precincts.

The Comelec chairman issued the reminder following a study that showed that a clustered precinct cannot accommodate 1,000 voters during an 11-hour voting period.

A time and motion study done by Youth Vote Philippines earlier showed that board of election inspectors could allow up to 24 voters to vote at the same time.

Melo said BEIs could make their own adjustments on election day.