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Comelec presents TOR for an automated election system

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday presented its terms of reference for an automated election system for the 2025 mid-term elections.

At a press conference, Comelec chairperson George Garcia pushed for the Fully Automated System with Transparency Audit and Count (FASTrAC), saying that some of the poll body’s 98,000 vote-counting machines can no longer work.

The Comelec will use a combination of the Upgraded Optical Mark Reader Paper-Based AES with Direct Recording Electronic capabilities.

Garcia, however, said they will still conduct a market survey.

“We’re hoping na magkaroon ng response sa market survey namin before the— even before the end or the early part of June natin. Malalaman niyo po kung merong available pala or hindi available sa market,” Garcia said.

[We’re hoping to have a response to our market survey before the end of the year of early part of June. You'll be informed if there would be any available in the market or not.]

“This early gusto na naming ilatag na agad, makapag-procurement kami short of award by July this year so  we can award by January or February next year at makapag end-to-end testing po tayo,” he added.

[So this early, we want to lay it down ... so we can award by January or February next year and make an end-to-end testing.]

Garcia also appealed to authorities to carefully look over their proposal when the agency asks for its budget.

“Sana matignan po ng mabuti yung kagandahan po ng proposal na mai-set aside na namin yung mga lumang makina at maka-procure, makapag-lease ng bagong machine. Take note po, lease lang naman po ito. Hindi pa naman kami bibili,” he said.

[We hope our proposal will be looked into so that we can set aside the old machines and we can ... lease new machines. Take note, we will lease and not procure yet.] 

He said that if they do not obtain a budget, they will resort to using the 98,000 VCMs they declared unusable.

The Comelec chairperson also said that the poll body projects voters to increase to 71 million by the next elections. 

Garcia said they also have a wish list for suggestions that were not included in the terms of reference.

“Dito po naipasok namin yung mga suggestions before ng Comelec Advisory Council… may mga pinasok po ako diyan. At yung iba na hindi namin naipasok sa TOR, nilagay namin sa wish list,” he said.

[We included here the suggestions of the Comelec Advisory Council. And we included suggestions that were not included on a wish list.]

The Advisory Council had recommended Comelec to use a biometric voter authentication, adopt an internationally recognized election system standard, adopt technologies for transparency, and training, among others. — RSJ, GMA Integrated News