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Over 400 defective poll machines found, replaced, Smartmatic says

May 10, 2010 12:44pm

(Updated 8:40 PM) Besides logistical problems, poll machine supplier Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) said it has found over 400 defective machines during the ongoing conduct of the automated elections as of 6:00 p.m. on Monday.

The company has already replaced 308 of the defective Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines, Smartmatic Asia President Cesar Flores said.

Ninety-seven units were still being replaced at about five in the afternoon of Monday, he added, stressing that "the number would be less by now."

"There were also [additional] 60 machines reported to have malfunctioned, but the problems have already been solved even before replacements could be sent," Flores said.

However, Flores could not yet provide the exact areas where the PCOS units were discovered to be defective.

The bulk of these malfunctions happened early Monday but that they were still well "within" the number of PCOS units "expected" to malfunction, he said.

"There could be some machines that would fail during counting and printing. But these are very good numbers. We were able to solve 75 percent of those reported problems, and those remaining would be resolved within the next hour," Flores said.

The number, which represents 0.005 percent of the 76, 347 poll counting machines deployed in precincts nationwide, "is not bad," according to Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal.

"We would have wanted that all went perfectly but steps are being taken for all votes to be counted. It really depends on how soon the Board of Election Inspectors could complete the processing of voters [and start counting]," Larrazabal said.

However, Larrazabal said that they do not have data for the amount of ballot rejection, as well as the estimate figures for the voter turnout.

Flores likewise said that the company ensured that the voting process would proceed despite these incidents.

"The important thing is we should not stop while waiting for a replacement machine... you don't want people to be disenfranchised," he said.

Flores said the need for replacement in different areas across the Philippines is being addressed by Smartmatic's command center in Ortigas.

Smartmatic provided 82,200 PCOS units for Monday's polls, more than 6,000 of which are spares.

Flores also said he saw two clear benefits from the automated process this year.

"Voters were happy.. and curious to vote because of the automation. I think that contributed to a higher turnout. And it was easier to vote. Watching interviews of voters who have already cast their votes, majority of them said it was easier.. that they liked the ballot. They don't have to memorize 35 names anymore," he said. - Kimberly Jane T. Tan, Pauline Nikka Corsino, RSJ, RJAB Jr., GMANews.TV
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