Friday, January 15, 2010

Election failure a high possibility – IT expert

Friday, 15 January 2010 00:00

Original Story:

An information technology (IT) expert has urged the public to pressure the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to abort automation and revert to manual elections, saying the probability of failure is “extremely high.”

With four months to go before the May 10 elections, clean elections advocate Augusto “Gus” Lagman said there would be “chaos” if Comelec would push through with the automated voting because of the delays in its preparations.

Among the delays he cited were the delivery and testing of the machines to be used in automation, the training of teachers, the hiring of the 45,000 technicians, the release of the final list of candidates and its calendar of activities. He also noted the Comelec’s failure to include the ballot boxes in last year’s bidding.

“Clearly the events are showing that the probability of failure is going up,” Lagman told The Manila Times at the sideline of the Rotary Club Makati North meeting on Wednesday.

“The public should act now by telling the Comelec to abort it and just go back to manual and merely just automate the canvassing,” Lagman told The Times.

The Comelec plans to use 82,000 Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines in the May 10 elections to automate counting of paper ballots, printing of election returns (ERs) as well as the transmission ERs of to a central system and canvassing.

Lagman said it is “too scary” to proceed with the automation because “we do not know what’s to happen” during the elections.

”And yet the Comelec is proceeding as though they don’t have problems . . . They are not even considering partial automation,” he said.

He is pressing for a Comelec decision before it becomes too late “to prepare for manual elections.”

“If they want to prevent the failure of elections, they have to act now. They have to shift now,” he said.

Asked what could be the reasons behind Comelec’s resistance to abort the PCOS system, he said “they may not know what they are doing,” further speculating that it may also be because of “pride.”

He added, “It may also because they have secret agenda that we do not know or somebody may really want to cause failure of elections.”

Lagman, who was invited by the Rotary Club Makati North to speak on election 2010, said the Comelec has so far paid Smartmatic-TIM P1.4 billion out of the P7.2 billion that has been earmarked for the poll automation.

Smartmatic and TIM had won the lease contract to supply the 82,000 PCOS units to be used in the May elections.

Lagman said the earlier the Comelec would abort the PCOS, the less money would be spent for the May elections.

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