Comelec to shorten voting time in 2013 polls

by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 06 2012 01:26 PM | Updated as of Jun 07 2012 02:43 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will shorten the voting time during the 2013 mid-term elections to address the problem of long queues on election day.

Chairman Sixto Brillantes said the poll body cannot afford to have more precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines per 1,000 voters.

“We’re addressing it by changing the procedure. Dun nagkagulo kami. We cannot lessen the number of voters. The short-cut solution is dagdagan ang makina, but we cannot do that anymore. Kulang pera. We will keep 1,000 [PCOS machines] per precinct…We’re trying to short cut the procedure. Pagkaboto aalis na, di na babalik sa BEI [Board of Election Inspectors],” he said.

Brillantes said the PCOS machines for 2013 will essentially be the same technology used in 2010, with minor software changes.

“I will assume it’s the same kasi meron kaming hinihinging improvements sa software. Mga technical eh much improved than 2010 glitches and deficiencies,” he said.

He said as soon as the Supreme Court lifts its restraining order and rules on the option of the Comelec to purchase of the PCOS machines, they will go full steam ahead with the preparations.

Brillantes said in the event the Court stops the purchase of the machines, they will go into public bidding.

“We are preparing the terms of reference. We have the necessary funding for budget given to us, which is P7 billion. We still have some reserves, this will come from savings.”

He also assured lawmakers that the poll body will not revert to manual voting in 2013.

Automation contractor Smartmatic demonstrated the PCOS machines to members of the House of Representatives committee on suffrage and electoral reforms Wednesday morning.

Smartmatic President Cesar Flores did a walk-through of the protocol for PCOS use. He presented 2 memory cards containing encrypted configurations per precincts. These govern the use of the machines.