No Further Test Polls – Comelec

MANILA, Philippines --- The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has ruled out conducting another mock election after it received a positive review from the Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC).

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes told the Manila Bulletin that the Comelec will not be having a follow-up to the mock polls it held last February 2 to test the automated system of voting in different parts of the country.

"TEC already validates our mock elections... that's already good," he said.

In its February 12 resolution, the TEC, among others, had approved the conduct of the mock elections of the Comelec despite the glitches encountered by the poll body.

The TEC is composed of a representative from the Comelec, the Commission on Information and Communications Technology, and the Department of Science and Technology.

"The Technical Evaluation Committee, having considered the totality... the on-site evaluation of field test and mock elections... resolves, to certify, that the AES (automated election system)... can operate properly, securely, and accurately be used by the voters, boards of election inspectors, local and national boards of canvassers, and Comelec in the May 13, 2013 National and Local Elections," said the resolution.

During the conduct of mock elections at the University of the Philippines Integrated School in Quezon City, the initialization of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machine encountered problems early on after the password keyed in by the chairman of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) was not accepted until the unit was restarted.

Later on, it became necessary to replace the PCOS unit after the first four voters had their ballots rejected.

Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez has already expressed the commission's determination to educate all 52 million voters on how to deal with the PCOS machines come Election Day.

He said this does not necessarily mean that everyone would be aware of the "nuts and bolts of how a PCOS machine works" but simply capable of knowing how they will vote through it.

"No one needs to be a technical expert. And within those parameters, we will continue with our education efforts and we will try to answer all of their concerns. Just give us a chance," said Jimenez.

The poll official said it is the Comelec's goal to make the PCOS machine "a casual element of elections" in the Philippines much like how a computer works in the daily lives of Filipinos.

To note, the Comelec has been engaged in the conduct of PCOS demonstrations in various parts of the country, wherein voters are given the chance to experience voting and get information on basic troubleshooting.

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