Hybrid system still among Comelec's options for 2016 polls

By Mayen Jaymalin, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 06 2015 09:15 AM | Updated as of Jul 06 2015 05:15 PM

MANILA - The hybrid system has not yet been ruled out of the Commission on Elections (Comelec)'s possible technology to be used in next year's elections.

Despite questions over the legality of using a partly manual method, Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said it remains one of three options being considered by the poll body.

“At the moment, we are considering three options: first, the refurbishment of the existing precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines and the 23,000 Optical Mark Reader machines; secondly, the lease of new 23,000 and 70,977 OMR machines; and finally, we are looking at the hybrid system,” Bautista said Friday.

At this time, the Comelec would rather not focus on the legality, but the feasibility of the technology, Bautista said.

“We don’t want to debate, at this point, whether the hybrid system is in accordance with the law because we want to focus first on the feasibility of the system,” he said.

Some groups are claiming the hybrid system does not conform to the Poll Automation Law.

The Comelec earlier conducted an end-to-end demonstration of the Precinct Tallying System (PATAS).

Under the PATAS, voting and precinct counting are accomplished manually with the latter done with simultaneous encoding and projected for public view just prior to transmission.

The precinct results will be electronically transmitted to the municipal, provincial, and national board of canvassers as well as in the central verification server for the official automated canvassing of votes.

The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) said PATAS may not be a viable option for the 2016 national and local elections.

PPCRV cited the glitches during the recent mock run of the system held at the Bacoor National High School Annex in Cavite.

“It is respectfully recommended to the Comelec that the PATAS be deemed under qualified for use in the large scale nationwide 2016 elections,” the PPCRV said.

The group cited “so many questions that arose and improbabilities of its effectiveness in the just concluded small scale mock elections.”

Among them are questions on the accuracy in counting the votes without influence from emotions, self-interest motives and duress of the encoder; and on which between the manual count or the digital transmission will protests be based and determined.

“A discrepancy of results actually occurred before transmission wherein the manual ER was corrected by data coming from the encoded digital results when the BEI admitted that she had been mistaken. Hence the dreaded human factor for both digital encoder and BEI come into play. The greater value question is which then will prevail as the actual accurate result? This question could cast doubts on the credibility of the canvass and, consequently, of the conduct of the entire elections,” the PPCRV stressed.

Citing the heated argument that erupted during the conduct of the mock elections, the PPCRV also raised the possibility of increased volatility during election day under the PATAS.

When sought for comment, Bautista said it respects the position of the PPCRV. – With Edu Punay, Christina Mendez

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