Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Comelec told to abandon pilot testing of touchscreen system in 2016 polls

Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel lll today enjoined the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to abandon its plan to pilot test the use of the touchscreen voting technology in Pateros, Metro Manila during the 2016 elections.

koko pcos

Pimentel, chairman of the joint congressional oversight committee on the automated election system (JCOS-AES), said the Comelec should altogether drop the plan of using the direct recording electronic (DRE) system in the polls.

He said the Comelec should instead use only the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) technology just like the rest of the country in the May polls next year because the pilot testing would already form part of the official results.

“If the Comelec wants to test the DRE system then it should be unofficial only and on the account of the vendors by way of a demonstration,” said Pimentel of the poll body’s plan to try the new electronic-based technology.

Pimentel also asked Comelec to allow Filipino IT experts to observe how technology provider Smartmatic is undertaking the diagnostic testing and repair of 80,000 PCOs machines to be used in the next local and national polls.

He said this would help ensure transparency after the Comelec awarded to Smartmatic the diagnostic testing and repairs of the PCOS machines at a cost of P268.8 million despite objections from various sectors.

On the other hand, he said the JCOC-AES would still study all legal angles on the possible “pilot testing” of the TCrES technology, a hybrid election system, using both manual and electronic canvassing, also on an unofficial basis.

The TCrES is viewed by several election watchdogs as more credible and less expensive compared to the PCOS and the DRE technologies, the latter costing from three to four times more than the former.

In its recent committee hearing, the JCOC-AES asked the Comelec to revisit its position on the use of the TCrES to conform with the provisions of the automated election system (AES) law.

While the Comelec Advisory Council (CAC) has recommended the pilot testing of DRE technology in the municipality of Pateros, Pimentel said the final decision on its application still rests with the Comelec.

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