Comelec team in China to inspect poll machines production

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 11 2009 02:06 AM | Updated as of Dec 12 2009 05:05 AM

SUZHOU, China - A team from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) sent to Suzhou, China to inspect the production of the more than 82,000 automated machines at Qisda Factory arrived Thursday afternoon.

The team is composed of Commission on Information and Communications Technology Commissioner Tim Diaz de Rivera, Comelec IT Consultant Renato Garcia and Comelec IT dept Director Jeannie Flororita.

News teams accompanied the team as well as some Smartmatic-Total Information Sustems officials headed by Smartmatic-TIM president Jonji Villa and Smartmatic-Asia Pacific president Cesar Flores.

The team's mission is to find out how the assembly or production line for the PCOS or precinct count optical scan machines is going, how fast it is, if everything is within schedule. The team would also get updates on the series of tests done on the machines, including a humidity test, to assure the election counting machines would function optimally on election day in May 2010.

The Qisda factory has earlier committed to finish all 82,200 PCOS machines required for the May 2010 polls.

During the first Comelec mission to China last November, Qisda reported its production/assembly rate was 3,000 PCOS machines per day at an average of just 10 minutes to complete one PCOS machine. This means that in barely 60 days, all 82,000 machines shall be completed.

So far, Qisda has finished 2 pilot runs for the PCOS machines:

Oct. 15- 22 - Pilot Run1: 100 units
Nov. 11-14 - Pilot Run 2: 150 units
Nov. 14-18 - Pre-mass production run: 120 units.

100 training units have already been shipped to the Philippines.

The full production run for the PCOS machines to be used in the May 2010 polls began last December 4.

Comelec chair Jose Melo had previously admitted he is having sleepless nights worrying about the preparations for the upcoming poll automations in May 2010.

The process was delayed by a month due to a case filed at the Supreme Court that had attempted but failed to block the awarding of the automation contract to Smartmatic-TIM. After which, the manufacture of the machines was transferred from Taiwan to China due to successive typhoons that hit Taiwan and reportedly delayed production.

80,200 PCOS machines are needed for the coming May elections. The first batch must be delivered by end-December while the balance must be in by the end of January. This would give Comelec ample time to have them tested, configured and have the source code installed.

While waiting for the delivery, Comelec and Smartmatic-TIM are already preparing for the training of thousands of IT professionals who would participate in the automated elections.

Melo however had said he remains optimistic and said that the worst that can happen is that there would be partial automation. In any case, the poll chief said, elections would push through on May 2010.