Comelec probes discrepancy over 'canvassed' Pasay mock polls voter turnout

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 30 2021 02:57 PM

People participate in COMELEC’s mock elections at the Padre Zamora Elementary School in Pasay City on December 29, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News
People participate in COMELEC’s mock elections at the Padre Zamora Elementary School in Pasay City on December 29, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA— The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has yet to determine the cause of a discrepancy between transmitted and canvassed voter turnout in a voting center that participated in Thursday’s nationwide mock elections, an official said.

“They’re checking the root causes of that right now. That’s one of the things that really did happen during the canvassing at the Cuneta Astrodome, and then we’re very thankful that that was noticed because that’s something that needs to be addressed,” Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez said in an interview with ANC. 

The incident involved transmitted election results from the Padre Zamora Elementary School voting center in Pasay City, where 390 voters turned up to cast their vote out of 786 registered voters in the lone participating clustered precinct.

At completion of canvass at the Cuneta Astrodome for the clustered precinct, the consolidation and canvassing system (CCS) flashed the same figure for the columns under “expected number of voters” and “received number of voters,” both at 786.

The canvassing system was supposed to flash 390 for the “received number of voters” column, corresponding to the actual number of warm bodies who cast their vote.

The results of the voting, however, remained unaltered, authorities said.

“We’ve noted that the attendance in the venue… I can actually say that, yes, the figure stated in the VCM (vote-counting machine) - we were there - actually, was 390, but we were no longer able to check after [transmission of election results]” said lawyer Helen Graido, policy consultant of election watchdog Legal Network for Truthful Elections (Lente).

Other poll watchdogs have yet to release their observation on the incident.

Thirty-four voting centers in Albay, Isabela, Leyte, Negros Oriental, Davao del Sur, Maguindanao and the National Capital Region (NCR) participated in the mock elections.

The event is mandated by law to test the security, accuracy, efficiency and integrity of the election systems.

Other areas, meanwhile, experienced “minor” issues, according to the poll body, ranging from change in ballot size being attributed to extreme weather conditions brought about by various issues. 

Some of these include the impact of Typhoon Odette in the Visayas and Mindanao regions, failure to replace depleted election return thermal paper, unnecessary markings on the ballot, and delayed start of opening of the mock polls.

Jimenez explained standard contingency measures were adopted to respond to these issues.

In the case of “expanded” ballots at the Negros Oriental State University voting center, ballot edges were slightly trimmed off. The ballots were successfully scanned by the VCM later on. 

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