Vote machine glitches ahead of Philippine election

May 4, 2010

Asia Pacific News

Vote machine glitches ahead of Philippine election
Posted: 04 May 2010 1237 hrs

A voter casts her ballot in the Philippine elections during overseas voting in Hong Kong.

MANILA : Vote-tallying machines to be used in the Philippines’ presidential polls next week have malfunctioned, the election commission said Tuesday, fuelling fears the count could descend into chaos.

Some of the 82,200 machines tested on Monday failed to read the names of candidates, forcing a recall of the software used, Commission on Elections spokesman James Jimenez said.

“Right now we are assuming that all of the machines were affected. We have stopped the testing and are pulling out all memory cards for (re)configuration,” Jimenez told reporters.

He sought to allay fears being aired in the local press that this could lead to a failure of elections, saying that technicians would be able to fix the glitch before 50 million voters cast their ballots on Monday.

“We’re getting the new configurations (done) today and in the next (few) days,” he said.

But Bobby Tuazon, policy studies director at the Center for People Empowerment and Governance, said he doubted whether there would be enough time to correct the problem.

“This will raise doubts about the winners and results,” said Tuazon, whose group had earlier warned of defects in the automation process.

“This will just increase fears among the public. It smacks of lack of preparedness, incompetence and their failure to listen and heed suggestions from various sectors.”

The automated polls are being introduced for the first time to reduce the risk of cheating, which has plagued Philippine elections in the past, as well as to speed up the process of counting the votes.

The commission, meanwhile, said it has received information that certain groups it did not name were out to discredit the poll body by sowing chaos and confusion next week.

It said without elaborating that the alleged plot involved voters who would try to delay voting.

“We are instructing our board of election inspectors that they have the right to summon the police,” to prevent this scenario, Jimenez said.

An estimated 50 million voters will choose a new president, vice president and thousands of other national and local officials on Monday.



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