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Comelec wary of enabling 'receipt' feature of voting machines

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has yet to decide on whether it will enable the security feature in vote counting machines to print receipts that voters may use to review if their ballot was read correctly.

The poll body demonstrated all security features of leased machines for the May elections on Monday, including the Voter Verification Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT), or the receipt printed after a voter casts his vote.

The other features include:
* digital signature
* UV light
* source code review.

"All of those features are in the machine. And three of those features will be enabled for the 2016 elections," Comelec chair Andres Bautista said. "The only question mark is in the printing of the so-called receipt."

"We are still deliberating upon it. There are advantages and disadvantages in printing the receipt," he added.

According to the Comelec, a voter could sneak the receipt out of the polling place and present it to the camp of the candidate who would buy his vote.

They added that while printing takes about 13 seconds, a voter may peruse it for a longer amount of time, thus holding back the line of other voters.

In his presentation, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said printing the receipt alone may add an additional 2.1 hours per 600 voters.

"Assuming that they will inspect the receipt 30 seconds on average, it will add five hours," he added.

The VCMs also have an onscreen verification feature that the Comelec is also considering. Here, the voter may check if the machine appreciated his ballot correctly with the list of names on the touchscreen.

After reviewing the list of names, the voter may press the green "check" button to cast his vote, or the red "X" button if he finds problems there.

The list stays on the screen for 30 seconds. The Comelec, however, is concerned that others may wish to go through the list for a longer period.

The Comelec leased some 97,000 voting machines for the 2016 elections. The poll body earlier said 43,000 units are already in the Philippines, 24,000 of them still held at Customs.

Meanwhile, nearly 20,000 units have been tested and approved. —KBK, GMA News