COMELEC TO AWARD P11.2 BILLION AUTOMATED POLL CONTRACT THIS WEEK
The Comelec’s Technical Working Group (TWG) will conduct today its final and last test for the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) poll machines of lone qualifying bidder Smartmatic and Total Information Management.
In addition, the TWG will repeat two of the tests earlier performed due to some minor errors committed during the tests. Last Wednesday, the PCOS machines could have passed the accuracy test of 99.995% had the members TWG did not miss marking eight of the 20,000 marks to be shaded in the 625 test ballots.
A report by the TWG said the poll machines underwent the accuracy testing but read only 19,992 ballot marks or shades, instead of the required 20,000. The TWG members missed shading eight of the marks. Technically, Smartmatic’s PCOS machines should have earned 100% from the accuracy test.
Under the test criteria, the poll machines must register 99.9995 percent accuracy in reading ballot marks, meaning it should have no more than one error in reading 20,000 ballot marks.
Although the machines showed 100 percent accuracy in reading the 19,992 vote marks in the test ballots, the TWG cannot declare the test machines to have passed the accuracy criteria.
“We are supposed to test the machines for 20,000 marks in accuracy and we have tested it for less than that. We have to test them on Thursday (yesterday) alongside the end-to-end demonstration and evaluation.
You have to comply with one error or less in the 20,000 marks in the requirement before you can say the item is complied with by the machines,” said Special Bids and Awards Committee (SBAC) chairman Ferdinand Rafanan.
The TWG failed to repeat the accuracy test yesterday. They decided to repeat the test today together with 12-hour battery test which was performed yesterday but was stopped because Smartmatic used the wrong cable for the test.
The demo momentarily stopped after a test machine “supposedly caught fire.” Representatives of Smartmatic-TIM rushed to the machine when smoke came out.
After a minute of troubleshooting, a representative from Smartmatic said: “The cable used to connect the battery to PCOS is thinner and I can only assume, we packed the wrong cable. There was overheating from a short circuit, basically because there is a big battery connected to the thin cable for power.”
This involves the duplex reading of 1,000 ballots or a total of 2,000 ballots as the machines read both sides of the ballots. To pass the technical evaluation, the poll machines must store in an encrypted format the digital images of 2,000 ballot sides or 1,000 ballots with back-to-back printing for paper trail audit.
The ballots must be able to contain 300 names on each side, since the Comelec expects to fit in the names of all candidates for both local and national posts in the 2010 elections. Unlike the ballot used for manual elections, the ballots contain pre-printed names of the candidates with ovals that voters will mark to cast their choices, said Rafanan.
The machines can detect and reject fake ballots or spurious and previously scanned ballots; operate for 12 hours on battery or alternative power devices; and transmit consolidated voting results using a public telco network, said TWG.
Representatives from Smartmatic-TIM said they will coordinate with the TWG for the second batch of ballots to be used for the accuracy testing.
The PCOS apparently shut down when it detected a short circuit to protect itself. It restarted when it was plugged to an electric outlet, Smartmatic-TIM explained.