MANILA — The Commission on Elections said on Monday it would allow the public to use vote-counting machines (VCMs) in mall demos to show that the country's automated poll system was "engineered to be secure and tamper-proof."
Comelec chairperson Saidamen Pangarungan said a voter education partnership will allow the public to access the machines at various SM malls nationwide ahead of the May 9 elections.
"With this project, we aim to dispel apprehension and fear of some voters regarding the use and security of the vote counting machines. These are state of the art equipment that have been used by other countries. They are engineered to be secure and tamper proof. The programming and codes for the machines are also safe and secure," Pangarungan said.
"We invite our voters to test them and familiarize themselves with these machines, so that when election day comes, we are confident that our votes will be recorded and counted securely," he added.
Pangarungan said the poll body was determined to make sure the election would succeed.
Commissioner Marlon Casquejo, head of the Comelec steering committee, had the same message.
"The involvement of the public in this voting experience will assist the commission in guaranteeing the public of how secure their votes are and that the sanctity of the ballots remains paramount amidst misinformation that their votes will be maneuvered or even trumped," Casquejo said.
"Giving the public this voting experience will lessen errors that voters usually commit on election day," he continued.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said that for the SM demos, 800 dummy ballots with fictitious names would be used per location daily.
The VCM demos follow allegations of an alleged "security breach" in the operations of Smartmatic, the tech firm supplying the automated election software. Comelec has denied the breach is related to the elections.