Comelec on track to repair vote-counting machines by November, eyes new units for 2025

Sta. Rosa, Laguna (NCS Philippines, September 14) — Some 97,345 vote-counting machines (VCMs) will likely be “good as new” when these are used for the May 2022 polls, the Commission on Elections stated on Tuesday.

The VCMs are being cleaned, whereas components and batteries are upgraded eight months forward of the presidential elections.

Comelec Commissioner Marlon Casquejo stated new VCMs ought to nonetheless be thought of in succeeding polls.

Sana ito na ‘yung last kasi it’s a nine-year-old machine this coming 2022, although we refurbished it. Siguro after 2022, may bagong technology na tayo for the conduct of elections, baka meron na tayong internet voting or DRE, direct-recording electronic (voting machine),” Casquejo stated in a press briefing on the Comelec warehouse in Laguna.

[Translation: I hope this will be the last time we will use this because it’s a nine-year-old machine this coming 2022, although we refurbished it. Maybe after 2022, we would have a new technology already for the conduct of elections, maybe we would have internet voting or DRE, direct-recording electronic voting machine.]

READ: Trial online voting results ‘promising’ despite connectivity issues – Comelec

The ballot physique spent about ₱1 billion to refurbish components and improve the VCM software program, towards an preliminary plan to purchase new machines for ₱12 billion.

Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas stated 36,239 or about one-third of present VCMs have cleared the refurbishment course of forward of the November deadline. Casquejo famous that 5,000 units had been discovered to be faulty.

Smartmatic, which bought the machines to Comelec, is answerable for the repairs being accomplished within the compound. It takes half an hour to full the method, from dusting, inspecting the components, alternative of batteries to preliminary take a look at runs.

Malfunctioning units are assessed for additional repairs, whereas people who go the diagnostic take a look at are repacked in a new field and returned to the principle warehouse.

The ballot physique stated it’s nonetheless pursuing the plan to lease 10,000 extra VCMs to decongest polling precincts. The first bidding failed last week as a result of there have been no takers as firms discovered Comelec’s most value too low cost.

“We will proceed with the second bidding and we will try to increase the ABC (approved budget contract) kasi kakayanin pa naman ng budget namin (because our budget can still accommodate this),” Casquejo added, noting a November goal for the subsequent bidding.

The further VCMs have to be delivered by January or February to give Comelec time to equip the machines with an automatic election software program. If this doesn’t push by, Comelec will likely be compelled to assign 1,000 voters per machine and precinct.

The ballot physique additionally clarified that the older Precinct Count Optical Scanner or PCOS machines can’t be repurposed anymore due to its outdated elements.

The supply code evaluation to examine the integrity of the automated election system platform has been pushed again to October due to present quarantine restrictions. Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez stated preparations are being made for a digital supply code audit if strict lockdowns proceed.
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