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Monday, May 06, 2013

COMELEC urges pessimists: 

CORTES, Bohol, May 6, 2013 (PIA) –The Commission on Elections is set to conduct a simultaneous key activity in the Visayas, to allow doubting Thomases to check on the integrity of the automated machines designed to accept and tabulate results on the May 13 polls. 

Bohol COMELEC Supervisor Leonil Marco Castillano said they are set to do the Final Testing and Sealing (FTS) of the Precinct Count Optical Scanners (PCOS) designated for each of the 1,355 voting precincts in Bohol. 

Bohol used to have 4,887 established precincts, but for this election, these have been clustered into 1,355 voting centers, each of them having a PCOS which would be used to read the cast ballots, tabulate the votes and then send them to Comelec servers immediately after the last ballot is cast. 

The law mandates that the FTS should not be done lesser than three days before the polls, this should give the election officers in towns to correct any problem and fix things on the day of the polls, Castillano said. 

At the radio voters’ education on the air, City COMELEC registrar Atty. Jonas Biliran said that the FTS is the perfect venue for people to watch and participate in the proceedings so as to witness the reliability and integrity of the PCOS. 
On the day of the FTS, the election officers test each PCOS by opening them up, making sure that the contained compact flash (CF) cards are all empty of content, all its operations are normal based on its programmed tasks. 

On this, the COMELEC allows ten voters to go through the usual process of voting, allow them to feed the ballots to the [PCOS] machines and then witness the count, explained Atty Ricardo Villares, during the radio voters’ education segment last week. 

Aside from the automated count by the PCOS, the law mandates the Comelec to do a corresponding manual count to check on the accuracy of the functions of the PCOS. 

Any problem with the machines; failure to tally with the manual count would be checked to make sure that each of the votes are counted and that the machines work as they are designed to, Atty. Biliran said. 

If things tally as they are, the PCOS are then finally sealed so that when tampered, the broken seals show. Comelec information officer Juvenal Beniga said. 

On the FTS however, election officers are given the discretion where to hold the activity, especially when transporting the delicate machines to their respective precincts could prove a risk and the machines are not secured from potential sabotage, Comelec also noted. 

In this light, we would like to invite interest groups, votes and watchers to observe and possibly participate in the FTS, so that the transparent activity could erase voter’s doubts on the rumors of rigged elections, Atty Villares invites. 

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