Comelec expects small glitches to occur during field testing of PCOS machines — Larrazabal

January 29, 2010 11:14 pm 

By Ferdinand G. Patinio

MANILA, Jan. 29 — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said they are expecting small glitches to occur during the field testing of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines since such minor problems will be their basis to perfect the transmission before the May 10, 2010 polls.

“There might be issues that would come up, but what is important is that they are being addressed. It’s a challenge that we have encountered. Now, nakita na namin and it will help us prepare in the elections,” Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said on Friday.

Minor problems occurred in the transmission of data during the field testing of the machines in Pateros and Taguig City, in particular in Aguho Elementary School, last Wednesday.

Larrazabal said they are expecting this minor setback to happen since they are still testing the reliability of the 82,200 machines that will be used for the coming automated elections.

The Comelec official hastened to add that the second field testing was a success.

“There were incidents such as the ballots, but the goals set on this field test, the parameters and the principles, to repeat…, we say that this (second field testing) is a success,” Larrazabal said.

Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez said they were thankful that the minor problems occurred this early to give them time to fix them.

“The purpose of these tests is precisely to shake down the entire system to make sure that everything that can go wrong goes wrong now so that we can fix it,” he added.

On Friday, all four sites of the PCOS field tests –- Pateros Elementary School and Aguho Elementary School in Pateros and Maharlika Elementary School and Taguig Elementary School in Taguig — initially failed to transmit data while using mobile subscriber identity module (SIM) cards.

Comelec-National Capital Region (NCR) Director Michael Dioneda said the incident did not last long because they were able to transmit the data after trying two other SIM cards.

He said they decided to use the Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) or a satellite internet network in Aguho Elementary School to be able to send the data to the Comelec Central Office in Intramuros and to the municipal canvassing center.

In the field test conducted last January 26, Aguho Elementary School failed to transmit the data using the SIM cards. Besides the failure to transmit data, four out of 10 ballots fed to the PCOS machines detailed at the same school were rejected by the machines.

According to Jimenez, the most likely reason the machine failed to read the ballots was probably that it might be wrinkled or damaged.

Larrazabal said they will meet with the Technical Working Group and the Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) Corporation to discuss extensively how to avoid the occurrence of similar problems. (PNA)

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