Ballots ‘100% tested’ by 2013?

The National Printing Office allays fears of a widespread rejection of ballots in 2013, following reports of sample ballots rejected by PCOS machines

REJECTED BALLOTS. A Youtube video shows PCOS machines rejected 40% of sample ballots for the 2013 elections. Screen grab from Youtube

MANILA, Philippines – Polling machines could have rejected 40% of sample ballots during an initial testing, but the National Printing Office (NPO) prefers to see this as part of birth pains.

NPO bids and awards committee head Sylvia Banda on Thursday, November 8, said the public shouldn’t fear widespread rejection of ballots in the 2013 elections. In an interview on ANC, Banda allayed fears triggered by reports, including a Youtube video, of a ballot testing in September that saw precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines accepting only 60% of sample ballots.

The rest got jammed, as a Youtube video shows. The NPO contracted the company Holy Family Printing Joint Venture for ballot printing, in a bidding process that was allegedly marred by anomalies.(Watch more in the video below.)

“That video on Youtube, that was already edited. They have only uploaded the video… that the ballot was jammed in the PCOS,” Banda said. She added the the first testing “was not actually part of the bidding,” but was for the NPO’s own evaluation.

She also noted that in the second testing, PCOS machines successfully processed 100% of sample ballots.

Banda said that in 2013, the NPO will not deliver to Comelec ballots “that will not pass the PCOS testing.” She added: “Before the elections, what we will deliver to Comelec is 100% tested. Even in the 2010 elections, everything that was delivered to Comelec was tested in the PCOS.”

She said up to 55-M ballots will be delivered for the 2013 elections. Asked if each of these ballots will be tested, Banda answered: “Yes, yes. That’s it. Even in 2010, that was the procedure. There is nothing to fear, because everything will pass through the PCOS before it will be (brought) to the precincts.”

House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez, for his part, said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) should handle the printing of ballots instead.

“Take it from the NPO and let the Comelec be the one in charge just like what they’ve done in 2010. That was a surprise move for the minority. We would like to find out why did the Comelec decide to farm out the very heart of the election, which is the ballot, to be given to another agency,” Suarez said in a press conference Wednesday, November 7.

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano sounded alarm bells on this as early as October, after he filed his candidacy for senator at the Comelec. In an interview with Rappler, Cayetano said the Comelec should have tapped a “reputable” private company, instead of the NPO, to print the ballots for 2013.

“Because when the oversight committee inspected NPO, for example, papers were only scattered. The office lacked security. Do we want to return to the time when there were a lot of syndicates selling extra ballots, et cetera?” Cayetano explained. – Rappler.com 

More on #PHVote, Rappler’s coverage of the 2013 elections:

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