No major problems were encountered at the start of the final testing and sealing of precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. reported yesterday.
“So far, there’s no problem. We don’t expect any problem in this precinct… and we don’t expect any problem in the
entire country,” said Brillantes, who personally supervised the Field Testing and Sealing (FTS) at Precinct 24 in Gotamco Elementary School in Pasay City.
Teachers serving as Board of Elections Inspectors (BEIs) checked if the PCOS machines have complete accessories based on a checklist provided by the Comelec.
The BEIs then operated the PCOS machines, including connecting the power adaptor to the machines and the battery in case there is no power; keying in the security key; setting the correct date and time; and feeding the accomplished ballots.
Brillantes said the machines that passed the tests would be sealed and stored in a secured place either at the school or at the Comelec’s PCOS hubs.
“The same machine will come to this room for election day…It will be opened again,” he said.
During the testing, Brillantes also ordered a manual count of the ballots counted by the PCOS machines to check its accuracy.
Brillantes said the members the Random Manual Audit team will do the manual counting. “They know what to do with over-votes. They are trained, unlike our BEIs here,” he said.
Over-votes refer to votes in excess of the number of available positions in the coming elections. Voters should select only 12 senatorial candidates, or their votes will be disregarded.
“The machine is a perfect counter, there is a scanner. We have a threshold on how you should shade the ovals on the ballots. Like if we set it at 50 percent, the machine will not read if you shade only 49 percent. But humans would not see the difference and they will count the votes. So there will be discrepancy,” he added.
Brillantes has assured the public that the Comelec is ready for the elections, even as he stressed the need for prayers to ensure the success of the elections.
“All has been set. Everything has been laid out. Maybe the best thing we can do now is to pray,” he said.
Meanwhile, Brillantes expressed suspicion over an orchestrated move to discredit the May 13 elections, amid mounting criticisms against the poll body.
Brillantes cited criticisms, particularly by former Comelec commissioner Augusto Lagman, on the re-use of PCOS machines.
“They are coming up with all kinds of accusations now that the election is getting closer…. It distorts the minds of the people at this time,” he said.
He said there seems to be an “orchestrated move to create doubt on the validity and legitimacy of the elections.”