Comelec declares special polls in lone Sarangani precinct as smooth, orderly

June 4, 2010 8:02 pm 

By Allen V. Estabillo

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, June 4 – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Sarangani province declared Thursday’s special polls at a lone clustered precinct in the coastal municipality of Glan as successful despite the delays in the conduct of the voting due to problems reminiscent of the glitches during the recent May 10 national and local elections.

Gertrudes Omaña, Glan election officer, said Friday the special elections held at clustered precinct number 6 in Glan Central Elementary School turned out generally smooth, orderly and successful despite the initial problems with the deployed precinct count optical scan or PCOS machine.

She said the voting did not start until 9:30 a.m. or a delay of more than two hours after the PCOS machine failed to recognize its accompanying compact flash or memory card.

The Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) failed to immediately log-in to the PCOS machine after their assigned security pin did not match with the machine’s configurations, she said.

Omaña said the problem was only remedied when they switched the assigned memory card for the PCOS machine.

Alfredo Edulza, BEI chair of clustered precinct number 6, said the delay was also caused by the Comelec’s failure to deliver the test and sample ballots on time.

He said they failed to conduct the scheduled testing and sealing of the PCOS machine last Wednesday due to the lack of test ballots.

Edulza said the test and sample ballots were only delivered around 6:30 a.m. Thursday or 30 minutes before the polling precinct was supposed to open.

“The delay was mainly caused by the PCOS machine’s failure to immediately function normally. But after that, the voting went on almost uninterrupted until the precinct closed down,” Omaña said.

During the voting, Omaña said a misunderstanding also ensued between two poll watchers of the Sarangani Reconciliation and Reformation Organization (Sarro) and personnel of election automation firm Smartmatic-TIM.

She said Smartmatic regional coordinator Atty. Chalmer Gevieso complained that Sarro poll watchers identified as Annaliza Tampus and Suani Gaston allegedly disturbed the poll proceedings when they called the firm “a joke” while its personnel were trying to fix the problems encountered by the PCOS machine.

Omaña later considered Gevieso’s request to expel the two poll watchers from the precinct because of the incident.

“What they did was really improper because the Smartmatic personnel were there to respond to our request,” she explained.

Meanwhile, the Comelec reported that 437 of the clustered precinct’s 851 registered voters turned up for Thursday special elections.

Some 429 of the total ballots cast were received and counted by the PCOS machine while eight were rejected or declared invalid. (PNA) LAP/AVE

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