Declare Smartmatic poll machines unfit, group tells Comelec

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Comelec should hold a “competitive public bidding” instead of buying the machines the poll body rented from Smartmatic, group says

MANILA, Philippines – Yet another cause oriented group is rallying against the Commission on Election’s plan to re-use precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines from the 2010 elections in next year’s polls.

The Movement for Good Governance (MGG) headed by chair MGG chair Prof. Winnie Monsod said the Comelec should hold a “competitive public bidding” instead of buying the machines the poll body rented from Smartmatic International Corp in 2010.

Monsod said Smartmatic should also be disqualified from participating in all Philippine elections because their voting machines are flawed and “should be declared unfit.”

‘Inferior quality’

The MGG points out that that critical standards set by law for security, accuracy and reliability of the automated election system were “not satisfactorily met by Smarmatic.”

Among other matters, the group said, Smartmatic failed to check the PCOS machines for a 99.995 percent matched scanning accuracy. It also failed to implement mechanisms for ultra-violet mark detection and verification of digital signatures.

“It has been clearly shown that a number of 2010 automated election products supplied by Smartmatic were of an inferior quality and non-compliant with original specifications,” MGG said.

Given the various problems experienced in the 2010 elections, the MGG said “there is no reason good enough to justify the re-use of this flawed Smartmatic system in the 2013 elections since it offers a clear and present danger to the country’s democratic processes.”

The MGG consists of information technology experts and advocates of electoral reform and transparency in government and civic organizations.

Cost considerations

As of March 7, the Comelec was supposed to have already started the process of bidding out the contract for automating the 2013 national and local elections.

In March 8 interview, however, Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said the Comelec is yet to finalize its decision on how it will obtain the machines to be used in the next national elections. Sarmiento told Rappler then that it will take this matter up in its en band session on Tuesday, March 13.

The poll body has signaled earlier that it is considering buying the 2010 PCOS machines from Smartmatic as this will supposedly come out cheaper.

Leasing brand new units will cost Comelec P6.2 billion while buying the 2010 PCOS machines will only cost the poll body P1.8 billion. –

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