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Vote-counting may be delayed in some areas, Comelec says

(Update 2 - 4:37 PM) Counting of votes in 5 percent of areas in the country — including Maguindanao, the site of a massacre last year — may be delayed by at least one day because compact flash cards to be used for poll machines may possibly arrive late, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said on Thursday. "At worst," counting and transmission of more than three million votes will be conducted on May 11 — a day after the elections — since the cards for the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines in some areas may be delivered only on that date, Comelec chairman Jose Melo said. "That is the worst scenario... there would still be precincts in very, very remote areas without the flash cards having been delivered and tested," Melo said during a press briefing on Thursday. CF card deliveries were anticipated because of logistical and security concerns, he added. At the same time, he clarified that voters will still be able to cast their ballots on election day, the only difference is that the votes won't be transmitted right away. "All will be able to have their votes be counted. Parang (It will be just like) central counting," he said. The ballots will have to be stored overnight at the precincts and will only be fed to the PCOS units once the CF cards arrive, he added. Areas where counting may be delayed include:
  • Negros Occidental (Toboso)
  • Isabela (Divilacan, Maconaco, Palanan)
  • Basilan (all municipalities)
  • Cagayan (Calayan)
  • Maguindanao (all municipalities)
  • Palawan (Agutaya, Cuyo, Kalayaan, Magsaysay)
  • Sulu (all municipalities)
  • Tawi-Tawi (all municipalities)
  • Zamboanga del Norte (Baliguian, Sibuco, Siocon, Sirawai)
  • Lanao del Norte (all municipalities)
  • Lanao del Sur (all municipalities)
  • Misamis Occidental (all municipalities)
  • Surigao del Norte (all municipalities)
  • Surigao del Sur (all municipalities)
These locations were enumerated in a letter sent to the Comelec by Smartmatic project manager Geraldine Guevarra. The same letter said that Smartmatic’s forwarders may reportedly be unable to promise immediate delivery of the cards up to the municipal level, either because of logistical problems or security concerns. On Monday, some PCOS machines failed to read some votes accurately, forcing the poll body to pull out and replace all the CF cards in the voting machines. The CF cards instructs the PCOS of the types of ballot it will read. But a human error in the configuration was identified as the cause the PCOS' failure to read votes of some local bets. Melo also dismissed worries of a failure of elections because of the glitch, saying that everything is okay now. "I am now smiling... it seems our prayers are being answered," he said. Smartmatic Asia president Cesar Flores also said that the company has already reconfigured 35,000 CF cards since Wednesday and that most of them yielded positive test results. - RSJ, RJAB Jr., GMANews.TV