Monday, May 10, 2010

CamSur to wait until Monday to test connectivity of vote machine

Inquirer Southern Luzon
First Posted 19:15:00 05/09/2010

Filed Under: Eleksyon 2010, Elections, Politics

PILI, Camarines Sur, Philippines -- The testing of the satellite signal from the province to the consolidation canvassing center of Smartmatic and Commission on Elections in Manila has been postponed to election day despite the insistence of the Smartmatic technician to hold it on Sunday.

Lawyer Romeo G. Serrano, Camarines Sur provincial election supervisor, decided to postpone the connectivity testing upon review of the general instructions from the Comelec, which required that the consolidation canvassing system (CCS) box be sealed upon the convening of the provincial board of canvassers.

“Opening of the CCS box must be in the presence of all parties and the general public according to Section 26, page 13 of the general instructions on consolidation of canvassing,” Serrano said.

He said the CCS box contained all the electronic gadgets and laptop computer, which would be used in the consolidation canvassing from the municipalities, for the provincial and congressional positions.

Serrano said the consolidated canvassing results, which would be transmitted from the provincial center here, would be the bases of the proclamation of winning candidates for the governor, vice governor, board members and congressmen.

Ricardo M. Gamurot Jr., CCS technician of Smartmatic in Camarines Sur, said that testing the satellite signal on Sunday would give them time to resolve any problems.

Based on the protocol provided to Gamurot, the testing of the connectivity is when “the CCS technician will connect the laptop to the transmission media to be used on election day. If there is connectivity, the equipment will be registered in the DNS server so we will be able to validate that the site is okay.”

Gamurot said that in other provinces, the connectivity testing had been done from May 3-7.

But Serrano stood firm on not pushing through with the connectivity testing here because that would violate the general instructions from the Comelec.

He said the connectivity testing was finally set 12 noon Monday upon the convening of the provincial board of canvassers—composed of the provincial election supervisor as chair, provincial prosecutor as vice-chair and the provincial schools superintendent.

Serrano said the opening of the sealed CCS box must also be witnessed by concerned parties and the public.

In Los Baños, Laguna, the testing of the precinct count optical scanning machines, the machines designed to scan and record the votes for automated counting, generally went well with some “tolerable problems,” said election officer Randy Banzuela.

The testing and sealing of the 70 PCOS machines to be used by the town’s 14 voting centers was scheduled to start 9 a.m. Sunday, but some were delayed as the machines were set up late.

In Los Baños National High School (LBNHS), poll watchers and board of election inspectors of cluster 54 had to wait for about 30 minutes as the PCOS machine did not immediately work.

A message in the LCD read: “application terminated unexpectedly.” This happened twice before the PCOS machine worked smoothly.

Paper jam happened for the first two ballots fed into the PCOS machine.

Cesar Medina, poll watcher of Bangon Pilipinas, said “We had to wait for the machine to function well. I hope this will not happen tomorrow, but I think it’s just a minor glitch.”

Banzuela said there were no discrepancies when the tallied votes were counterchecked through manual checking, according to the reports he gathered.

Also in Los Banos High School, one of the mock elections participants mistakenly voted for 13 senators, when only 12 were needed.

The last senator voted in that ballot was not counted by the PCOS machine, but was read during the manual counter check. Hence, a difference in the results was recorded.

In Barangay Bagong Silang, the testing and sealing was delayed for at least an hour since there was no source of electricity.

Banzuela clarified, however, that the batteries that came with the PCOS machines should be sufficient for the actual elections.

The signal for the transmission, he added, was not an issue.

Barangay Bagong Silang is located in Mt. Makiling in Los Baños.

Banzuela said he expected the elections to go smoothly on Monday.

“There are technical support personnel who will be on standby to assist the teachers if problems arise in any of the PCOS machines,” he added.

The Comelec provincial supervisor in Laguna has expressed optimism that the automated elections Monday would succeed because all the PCOS machines were already in place in 29 municipalities while the mounting of the memory cards were also being worked out the whole day on Sunday.

Lawyer Dioscoro Pajutan, Comelec Laguna provincial supervisor, said he was optimistic the elections would go on smoothly based on his observation of the successful testing of the PCOS machines in Cavinti and Luisiana in last few days.

Pajutan was positive that the other PCOS machines in the rest of the towns in Laguna would also work out well.

He said his personnel in the Comelec were working overtime in the weekend side by side with the workers of Smartmatic to ensure that elections paraphernalia would be tested and ready for the automated voting.

A PPCRV coordinator in San Pablo City, however, expressed sadness that the PCOS machine in one of the barangays failed the testing because the serial number of the document being fed into the machine did not match.

Romeo Narciso, PPRCV coordinator in San Gabriel Parish, said that in Barangay Santiago 2, also in San Pablo City, the testing of the PCOS machine did not materialize in the morning due to power failure in the vicinity of the elementary school, the localation of the polling precinct.

An electrician in the area was tapped to fix the problem so that the PCOS machine could finally be tested and be ready for the elections.

Reports filed by Juan Escandor Jr., Karen Lapitan and Romulo Ponte, Inquirer Southern Luzon

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