Glitches mar mock polls

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Sunday, February 3, 2013

MANILA (Updated) -- Initialization and transmission problems marred the first full blown mock elections for the May 13 midterm polls initiated in 20 voting centers in 10 areas nationwide.

Immediately after the opening of the polling precinct, which was graced by no less than the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes, the initialization of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machine hit a snag after the password of the Board of Election Inspector (BEI) chairman was repeatedly rejected.

Brillantes explained that the initialization problem can be attributed to the “rustiness” of the PCOS machines.


“Yung PCOS natin was used in 2010. Nagpahinga ng tatlong taon or dalawang taon mahigit. Medyo papainitin mo lang ng konti. It’s the first time that we are using it again,” Brillantes told reporters.

Initialization is the process wherein the BEI will make sure that there are no votes or entries stored in the PCOS machine’s memory as proven by an initialization report to be generated by the machine afterwards.

Aside from passwords, the ballots of the first four voters were also repeatedly rejected by the PCOS machines, prompting the BEI to finally replace the unit.

But according to Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez, the ballots could have been rejected by the PCOS machines due to the improper handling of the ballots by the voter.

“These are pure speculations on my part based on what I was able to see.

Again, this is part of the election process. On election day, we have 81,000 machines for 76,000 precincts,” he added.

To note, each voter has four chances of trying to feed the accomplished ballots in four different orientations: face-up head first, face-up end first, down face head first, and down face end first before their ballots can be considered rejected.

Jimenez said the problem only affects the specific machine and that voting proceeded smoothly after it was replaced.  

The mock polls mimicked the entire voting process on election beginning with the PCOS initialization up to the transmission of votes both directly to the Central Server in Cabuyao, Laguna, and through the step-by-step process from the precinct, to the municipal canvassing centers, to the provincial canvassing centers and to the central/national server.

Poll centers

The voting center at UPIS is just one of the 20 identified voting centers in 10 areas around the country that simultaneously held the mock elections Saturday.

Janice Mejila, the first voter to participate in the mock elections held at the UPIS at Barangay UP Campus, said she was dismayed when the ballot she fed into the PCOS machine was rejected.

“I hope next time they (Comelec) will make sure that the machines are functioning properly,” Mejila told Sun.Star in an interview.

Jimenez said the Comelec technical personnel will also assess the PCOS machines and their performances after the mock polls in order to see why some rejected the password and the ballots.

Before noon, other areas where the mock polls were held already had their successful transmission to the central server.

“Comelec servers in Cabuyao, Laguna have received PCOS results transmissions from Maguindanao, Tawi-Tawi, Camarines Sur, Negros Oriental, and Misamis Oriental,” said Brillantes.

However, transmission failures marred the mock elections in Misamis Occidental, Misamis Oriental and Cagayan de Oro.

Comelec Commissioner Grace Padaca, who personally supervised the mock elections in the two identified schools in the city, said voting went on smoothly in City Central School though a slight problem arise during the transmission of the election returns.

Padaca said slow internet connection delayed the transmittal of results.

Padaca said generally, the mock election in Cagayan de Oro was successful.

In Dumaguete City, the mock election was successful except the transmission of results was transmitted to a Comelec server that has not been set-up yet.

Because of this, the poll chief said he believes that the overall conduct of the mock polls has been successful except for a few glitches at the start.

“Our reports from the provinces are okay pa din. We have not received any adverse report from the provinces so far… We have some initial minor problems here but everything has settled down now,” said Brillantes.

CAGAYAN DE ORO. Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Grace Padaca (extreme left) confers with Atty. Aleli Ramirez (center), Cagayan de Oro City election officer, and Nerizza Gavan of the Comelec's Information Technology at the transmission base at the City Tourism Hall during Saturday's mock elections. (Joey P. Nacalaban)

Meanwhile, mock elections held at the City Central School in Cagayan de Oro Saturday morning was slightly disrupted by a fire that reportedly started at the second floor of a building inside the school.

According to a report from RMN Radio, the fire broke out inside a laboratory located on the second floor of the building at around 7:25 a.m.

Related to this, Padaca assured that the Commission would exert all effort to avoid the repeat of the controversial dumping of election returns at the city's landfill in 2010.

She said the transport of election returns after the actual election in May would be heavily-guarded.

After the elections in 2010, several election paraphernalia were discovered at the city's landfill in Barangay Carmen and in a junkshop in the city. (Kathrina Alvarez/HDT/ Terry Betonio/Nicole Managbanag of Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro/Sunnex)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 03, 2013.

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