MANILA – The Commission on Elections asserted Wednesday it is ready for the 2013 midterm elections even after glitches marred the mock elections last Saturday.
Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes gave the assurance during a joint congressional oversight committee hearing on the automated elections.
“There will be no perfect mock elections. It might create more problems than answers. Anyway, we will have to go into the final testing in all the precincts all over the country 7 days before the actual elections,” he told committee members.
Brillantes said the poll body is still trying to finish the reports on the mock polls to see if another mock election is warranted. He said that if Comelec conducts another mock poll, it should be conducted in February.
The Comelec chief said he is now negotiating with supplier Smartmatic and the US-based Dominion Voting Systems regarding problems with the certification of the poll automation software.
Several issues were discussed during Wednesday’s hearing including rejected ballots, the proper shading on ballots and the Comelec’s contingency plans.
Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares asked if the thickness of the paper could have caused the rejection of some ballots. Brillantes, however, said the National Printing Office has printed 200,000 ballots and none have been rejected so far by the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.
Comelec Executive Director Jose Tolentino also noted that one ballot was rejected during the mock polls due to ambiguous mark.
Cavite 4th District Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr., meanwhile, noted that during a mock poll at the House of Representatives, a large X was put on the face of the ballot but was still accepted by the PCOS machine.
Smartmatic president Cesar Flores said ballot will still be read by the PCOS machine if the shade does not tamper with the bar code or the markings on the side of the ballot.
“However, if the markings would have touched or tampered with the alignment marks or the bar codes, the PCOS will think it is a fake ballot and it will reject it,” he said.