Comelec issues rules for final testing, sealing of PCOS machines

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has allowed the conduct of the final testing and sealing (FTS) of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines outside polling precincts that are in mountainous and remote areas.

The commission said the decision came after some election officers (EOs) asked to be allowed to conduct the FTS in places other than assigned polling precincts which are located in ''mountainous and far flung and remote hinterlands'' that can be reached only by two to three day walks.

During the FTS, the PCOS machines are tested, sealed with finality, and will not be opened again until Election Day.

However, the Comelec stressed that the FTS should still be conducted at least seven days before Election Day.

The General Instructions for the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) for the May 13 polls provides that the BEIs should convene in their assigned polling precincts for the FTS at least seven days before Election Day.

In Comelec Resolution No. 9670, the commission en banc said any change in the venue of the FTS should be approved by the Regional Election Director subject to conditions.

Changes in FTS venues are only allowed if the location of the polling precinct would be very difficult to supervise during the conduct of FTS, such as when there is a need to repair/replace a defective PCOS machine; that there is lack or difficulty of means of transportation in the area; that peace and order in the area justify the transfer of venue of FTS to another location before Election Day; and that the deployment service provider should deliver the PCOS machines and election paraphernalia to the proposed FTS venue and to the polling precincts without additional cost to the Comelec.

During the FTS of the first automated polls in the country in 2010, it was discovered that there was a need to replace all the flash cards after some of them caused the malfunctioning of the PCOS machines.

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