Despite increase in defective counting machines, Comelec says polls 'successful'
The Commission on Elections ( Comelec) on Tuesday said the 2019 midterm election is “successful” despite reported increase of defective vote counting machines and SD cards used during the elections.
“Compared to 2016, there is an increase (of defective counting machines and SD cards),” Comelec chairman Sheriff Abas said in a press briefing at PICC, Pasay City.
“We are asking for understanding and patience of people but on our part, we think the election is still successful,” he said.
Abas said only one percent of the overall total of vote counting machines and SD cards were reported to be defective.
“As of 10 am, the report from the national support technical center, we have 961 defective VCMs as against 85, 769. So that would be 1.1 percent of the total VCMs. As to the SD cards, out of the 85, 769, defective are 1,665 or 1.9 percent of the total SD cards,” he said.
He added out of the 1,665 defective sd cards, they only replaced 1, 253 as the remaining are still undergoing re-configuration.
Though only one percent, the number of VCMs and SD cards that malfunctioned is still higher than the previous 2016 presidential election.
Abas said last 2016, only 801 VCMs and 120 SD cards were reported as defective.
He said they are looking into the possibility the unbundled procurement process is one of the cause for this.
“The difference in 2016, our bidding is bundled. Meaning only one supplier supplied for the machines, marking pens, papers and SD cards. That’s Smartmatic. After 2016, we request for a budget in DBM so that gave us an option to purchase,”
Because of this, Abas is eyeing on either changing the supplier or make the purchase into bundled again. He will investigate the supplier on why these problems occurred.
For his part, Commissioner Marlon Casquejo said the problems in SD cards may due to its low quality and the way it was delivered in polling centers and the problem in the VCMs may due to defects it acquired while stored for almost three years.
“We are investigating the incident,” said Casquejo.
Abas said the conduct of elections are “peaceful”.
“Everyone was able to conduct election. We don’t receive failure of election for 2019 and for us that is another milestone,” said Abas.
On the burning of vote counting machines and some paraphernalia in Jones, Isabela, Abas said they will investigate this.
Whether to change Smartmatic as the source of vote counting machine, Abas said it will be based on the bidding process.
“That’s under procurement, bidding. Even if you want them or not, we want to follow the procurement law… and it has a lot of process and requirements. We also have a law that bidders should have the required experience,” he explained.
Asked if they are willing to return to manual voting, Abas said it will be based on the decision of the Congress.
“We will see because we have a law that election should be automated. For as long as it was not amended, we will see to it that election is automated. But if the Congress amends it, whatever they say we will do it. Whether manual or automated,” he said.
On the glitches on their transparency server, Abas said it is only a partial, unofficial and quick account and public can be sure of the credibility of results based on their official canvass. Ella Dionisio/DMS