Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Printing of manual ballots stopped, full automation on—Melo

By Anna Valmero
First Posted 17:58:00

Filed Under: Eleksyon 2010, Politics, Elections

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will no longer print manual ballots because “it’s too late” and that to mix these with those prepared for the automated polls on May 10 will be “problematic,” said Chairman Jose Melo.

“We will no longer print manual ballots, too late na [it’s too late],” Melo said, explaining that mixed manual and automated polls would be “problematic” in terms of consolidating the total votes cast, especially for national candidates.

As with previous elections, results in manual polls for national positions are tampered through “dagdag bawas” (vote padding and shaving) by election operators to favor a candidate and winners are proclaimed after a month, he said.

Melo added that partial automated polls might pave the way for cheaters to introduce fraud into the system or sabotage elections in areas where manual ballots have been distributed, which might result in failure of elections in the area.

“Hypothetically, let us say that we automate 90 percent of the country and 10 percent have manual polls. For automated polls, the results are out in three to four days and who knows how many weeks it would take to consolidate the votes for areas with manual elections,” said Melo.

The scenario might prevent the declaration of winners for national positions, especially if the remaining votes are statistically significant to result in a margin between candidates, he said.

Out of the 50 million ballots – one for each voter – about 17 million ballots have been printed by the National Printing Office and had passed the security tests.

All 77,000 poll machines to be used in clustered polling precincts nationwide have passed the laboratory and stress tests at Comelec and Smartmatic-TIM's warehouse in Laguna. Installation of the certified automation software for the configuration of the poll machines is ongoing, with two configured units shipped to Kalayaan Islands Wednesday.

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